Mexican voters have punished the country’s deeply unpopular ruling party in regional elections, with early results suggesting that the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) has lost governorships in six states – including four where it had never lost power for more than 80 years. Dogged by allegations of rampant corruption and political thuggery, the PRI lost the Gulf Coast states of Veracruz and Tamaulipas, where kidnapping and extortion have reached alarming levels and drug cartels appear to operate with impunity. The results dealt a heavy blow to Mexico’s president, Enrique Peña Nieto, putting the opposition National Action Party (PAN) – either alone or in coalition – ahead in seven of the 12 states which held elections on Sunday. “We’ve broken the authoritarian monopoly the PRI has held for more than 86 years,” a buoyant PAN leader Ricardo Anaya told cheering supporters after polls closed on Sunday.
The rebuke for the PRI comes amid growing discontent over a flailing economy, rampant corruption and the government’s failure to rein in violent crime. Peña Nieto recently said Mexico was going through a “bad mood”, but analysts said the vote reflected an urge to hold public officials to account for the country’s many problems.
“We’re still a very fragile democracy, but yesterday people voted against the party in power because they are fed up with this system of fear, the lies and the manipulation,” said Armando Regil, a political analyst in Mexico City.