Lessons from the Mexican Alternative 2023 coming June 2 | Article

Authors: Willibald Sonnleitner and Aldo Muñoz.

On June 4, 2023, the flag bearer of the National Regeneration Movement (Morena), Delfina Gómez, became governor of the State of Mexico with 52% of the vote. The historic change – the first in nine decades in this stronghold of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) – ends a tense election cycle that began with the tsunami that devastated the traditional ruling parties in 2018. The newly formed movement won the governments of 21 entities, gaining more than two-thirds of the national electorate.

On the same day, Morenista Armando Guadiana failed in his race for governor of Coahuila with 21% of the vote. A year earlier, Morena lost most city councils and the governorship of Durango in local elections in June 2022 after mobilizing 17.7% of Mexicans registered in a recall plebiscite in April and 7.1% in a popular poll in August. 2021. In June of the same year, the Guinda party received 34% of the votes in the mid-term federal legislative elections, as well as 31.3% in the local legislative elections and 27.7% in the municipal elections that were organized between 2020 . and 2022. Throughout the country.

Seen from above – at the state level – Morena is moving forward like an unstoppable steamroller, driven by a powerful majority bloc. However, when examined from below, there is noticeable party fragmentation, which shows a steady process of political disintegration – especially at the municipal level. Both processes were clearly observed in the 2023 Mexico State gubernatorial elections, from which useful lessons can be drawn for the June 2 general elections. Below are some interesting findings from a broader study we conducted together last year, recently published in the academic journal Interstices Sociales.

We highlight three important lessons for the upcoming elections. First, the race was much closer than the polls had predicted. For many months, this gave a big advantage to Delfina Gomez, who had about 60% of the votes, compared to 40% for Alejandra del Moral. The actual result was 8.4 percentage points. This is partly due to the fallout from the short campaign of Alejandra del Moral, who took time to build her coalition six months after Delfina Gómez began her proselytizing activities, after she won Morena’s internal poll. As can be seen in Graph 1, Gomez gained a large advantage among voters who had already decided their vote before the start of legal campaigns, while the race was closed among those who had decided in the last three months; The proportion has even changed among those who have decided to do so in recent weeks.

Graph 1: Party voting depending on the moment of the election decision (2023)

The second lesson is that in the face of growing partisan fragmentation, so-called “hard voting” is no longer enough to win elections, and non-partisan segments take on decisive weight. Overall, the PRI recovered slightly and achieved its electoral goal, receiving 1,800,000 votes, an increase from 2017. (which cut her vote by a third) and Nueva Alianza, Alejandra managed to defeat Delfina, whose party won because it expanded its supporter base.

As can be seen in Graphs 2–4, the number of voters supporting the PRI fell from 25% to 16% between 2017 and 2023; PRD membership fell from 8% to 2%, with only PAN members remaining the same (7%); On the other hand, the Morenists grew from 12% to 30%. First of all, preferences were divided among non-partisans: 54% of them leaned toward Delfina Gomez.

Charts 2–4: Party Identification and Electoral Preferences (2017 and 2023)

Coalition heterogeneity is also reflected in the socio-demographic profiles of different electorates, in exit polls and in official results disaggregated at the polling station level. As can be seen in Graph 5, Alejandra del Moral won both among the PRI segments without education and among the PAN segments with the highest level of education, while Delfina Gómez increased her margin among Morena, PVEM and PT voters, in the intermediate segments from primary , middle and/or high school.

Graph 5: Party voting and margin of victory by education level (2023)

Hence the importance of the third lesson, which emphasizes the crucial role of different levels of internal cohesion among different alliances: some party coalitions succeed in cohesiveness and add votes, while others disperse or diminish them. Joining a coalition does not necessarily guarantee a larger influx of votes, since the intermediate leadership, activists and sympathizers of the coalition forces, must also approve of what the party leaders have agreed upon. Only when this happens will it be possible to successfully build “consensual coalitions.”

The key to Delfina Gomez’s victory was the high level of cohesion of the Together We Make History Alliance, which includes Morena, PT and PVEM. This was facilitated by the ideological affinity between the coalition parties, the strong consensus on her candidacy long before the campaign began, and her success as a challenger in the previous elections in 2017. In addition to consolidating its presence throughout Mexico, it acted. their campaign effectively, under unified command.

In contrast, the Alianza Va por el Estado de México, which was created late between the PRI, PAN, PRD and Nueva Alianza around the candidacy of Alejandra del Moral, failed due to internal tensions that began with the choice of candidacy. . Alejandra del Moral had to overcome divisions within her party to gain support from the leadership and base of the tricolor. Later, it took him some time to convince the other parties of his candidacy, and tensions arose over the distribution of posts among the party leadership. As if this were not enough, their alliance also suffered from the growing discredit of the PRI, which caused resistance among the bases and territorial structures of both the PAN and the PRD. This forced the deployment of segmented campaigns with different command structures distributed among member parties.

As Maps 1 and 2 illustrate, these contradictory dynamics led to a marked socio-territorial reconfiguration of traditional PRI voters, to the demobilization and departure of PAN voters, to the erosion and fragmentation of those who voted for the PRD, and to extinction. dispersion of neo-alliance voters. On the other hand, the common candidacy of Delfina Gómez managed to unite militancy; His campaign was developed from a single decision-making center and achieved the recognition of the voters of Morena, PVEM and PT, which was reflected in the majority of votes and in the socio-territorial expansion of his electorate throughout the state.

As you can see, there has been a deep recomposition of the electoral geography of the period 1991-2018. In 2023, Delfina Gómez won in 95 municipalities and had a lead of more than ten points in 78 of them, distributed throughout the entire entity. Alejandra del Moral barely achieved a significant advantage in 10 of the 30 municipalities she won, located in the heart of the Blue Corridor (Huixquilucan, Naucalpan, Atizapan and Metepec), in the Toluca Valley, in the west (Amanalco, Temascaltepec, San Francisco). José del Rincón, Villa Victoria and Villa de Allende) and in Soyaniquilpan (in the north of the state).

Maps 1 and 2: Historical background of PRI, PAN and PRD (average election results 1991–2018) and vote margin between Delfina Gómez and Alejandra del Moral (2023 governorship)

In short, the Mexican Alternative 2023 was the result of a successful coalition between Morena, the Green Party and the PT, a unified and sustained campaign targeting Morena supporters and non-partisan voters. While the latest elections in Mexico State illustrate the growing instability and fragmentation of parties and the socio-territorial basis of voting, they are useful for reflecting on upcoming elections in other entities, and in the rest of the country.

Source: Aristegui Noticias