Mexico's most populous state votes in prelude to presidential election
MEXICO CITY, June 5, 2023 (BSS/AFP) - Millions of Mexicans voted Sunday in the country's most populous state, with the ruling left-wing Morena movement hoping to seize the last major bastion of the once-dominant PRI party, one year ahead of presidential elections.
A total of 12.6 million people were eligible to vote for the governor of the State of Mexico, the region on the outskirts of the capital which encapsulates all the contrasts of the country, from economic dynamism to criminal violence.
In this last big test before the mid-2024 presidential election, Morena's candidate Delfina Gomez is the favorite against the PRI's Alejandra del Moral.
A victory would confirm the new hegemony of the Movement for National Regeneration (Morena), which already governs 22 of Mexico's 32 states, either alone or with its allies.
Shortly after polling stations closed at 0000 GMT, both Gomez and Del Moral said they had won. Preliminary results were expected late Sunday.
Gomez said she was proud of the men and women of her state. "They are the ones who made this victory possible," she said.
Gomez is boosted by the popularity of President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, in office since December 2018.
The Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), which held power from 1930 to 2000, and then again between 2012 and 2018, had been described in the past as a "perfect dictatorship" by Nobel Prize in Literature winner Mario Vargas Llosa.
A loss in the State of Mexico would deny PRI its historical bastion.
"I hope it will be a beautiful day for the Mexiconses," the term for inhabitants of the state, said Gomez as she cast her ballot.
With 17 million residents -- more than Belgium, Switzerland, and many other European countries -- the State of Mexico is a "mini-Mexican Republic," according to the political scientist Miguel Tovar from Alterpraxis.
The state is one of the most violent in the country, especially in the urban areas around the sprawling capital, yet also an important manufacturing hub that is home to corporate giants such as Ford and Nestle.
Its economy represents 9.1 percent of the nation's GDP.
Elections were also taking place Sunday in the northern mining state of Coahuila on the US border.
Morena has not presented such a united front there, thanks to the dissident candidacy of a former secretary of state in Lopez Obrador's government.
The division within the ruling party could allow the PRI to win over a majority of the 2.3 million registered voters.