By Deborah Bonello / Insight Crime
The run-up to Mexico’s June 5 gubernatorial elections has been beset with reports linking candidates to organized crime, and voters could knock President Enrique Peña Nieto’s Institutional Revolutionary Party (Partido Revolucionario Institucional – PRI) out of historical strongholds for the first time in states long infected by criminal gangs.
Ballots in 14 of Mexico’s 32 states and the capital will open on Sunday morning in a contest seen by many as a sign of who might win power in the 2018 presidential elections.
The popularity of Peña Nieto and his party is currently at an all-time low as Mexicans are unimpressed with how he has handled the country’s economy and tackled its corruption problems.
Voters will elect new governors in twelve states, of which the PRI currently controls nine. One study suggests that in a worst-case scenario, the party could lose half of those.
Of the states with high levels of organized crime that will be electing new governors, the PRI fortresses of Veracruz and Tamaulipas promise to be the closest races. The PRI has never lost a gubernatorial election in either of those states.