24/7 Live News Portal

A trail of tensions and confrontations guides the final stretch of the election to Morena’s leader

Mario Delgado and Porfirio Muñoz Ledo, in the Chamber of Deputies, in September 2019.Mario Jasso /

The judicial clouds that threatened Morena’s internal election were cleared this week with the final ruling of the Electoral Tribunal. The judges chose to continue with the process and rejected some appeals presented by the different factions of the party that, alleging irregularities, sought to suspend the renewal of the presidency and the general secretariat. With this, they wanted to extend a confusing process that began in 2019 until after the June 2021 elections. President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s party will have a new leadership anointed by an open poll on Saturday. For now, the organization has overcome the outbreak of storm, but has left a trail of internal tensions and clashes between groups that will mark the north of a party that starts as a favorite in the 2021 elections.

Morena has been trying to resolve the election of his presidency for more than a year, which today is in the hands of an interim, Deputy Alfonso Ramírez Cuéllar, who has a reputation as a conciliator. The process has turned into an endless spiral of internal wars, which have prevented reaching even basic agreements on how to carry out the election of its new leader. Legal challenges shaped the elections and, in the face of widespread chaos, the courts expropriated militants’ right to choose a figure to lead the movement. The electoral authority, the INE, came to determine an open poll as the method of choice. The militants reluctantly accepted it. A long hundred applicants ended up being reduced to a final shortlist of five. Two are waging a tough battle for the presidency: Porfirio Muñoz Ledo, an 87-year-old veteran and prototype of the partisan evolution of the Mexican left, and Mario Delgado, leader of the party’s bench in Congress, where he has the majority.

Muñoz Ledo, who has a history of five decades in politics, took the lead in the first survey of recognition, open to the population. He took more than 20 points to the second place, occupied by Delgado, who has adopted a discourse of unity and reconciliation. Muñoz Ledo’s attacks, however, have been rising in tone during the dates of the final survey, which ends this Thursday. The veteran deputy, who presided over the PRI and the PRD, has charged harshly against Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard, who supports Delgado’s candidacy. His darts showed that the fight for the presidential candidacy in 2024 also runs in parallel with the internal elections of the party. The battle of Muñoz Ledo, who says it will be his last in politics, has the support of the head of the City Government from Mexico, Claudia Sheinbaum, who also aspires to the National Palace.

The judges added noise to an already turbulent process. After the first poll, which put Muñoz Ledo in an advantageous position, a new project by the electoral tribunal was made public that sought to derail the election again. All interested parties opposed Judge Felipe Fuentes’ project, which sought to return the party to the starting box within its labyrinth. “The current leadership of Morena is the one that has been filing appeals in order to throw away the survey process that is underway,” said Mario Delgado hours before the judges voted. The legislator was referring to Ramírez Cuéllar and Bertha Lujan, former secretary general, who is considered part of the party’s dogmatic wing. The robes finally endorsed the poll in a session under great pressure.

The decision, however, did not serve to defuse the situation within the party. Muñoz Ledo continued the charge against his adversary and other party leaders, including academic John Ackerman, whom he accused of instigating an international US media campaign against López Obrador. The veteran deputy also launched accusations of corruption against Delgado, hinting to know an alleged cause of embezzlement of funds on the leader of his party’s bench. From the other side, they have counterattacked, accusing the historic left-wing leader of inflating their social networks with an artificial campaign at the expense of a checkbook.

López Obrador, who has kept a prudent distance during the evolution of events within his party, defended this Thursday the controversial system of polls, a method that had already been used on several occasions within the PRD, the party from which great part of the morenist paintings. “If the vices of hauling, vote buying and the lack of political responsibility of leaders cannot be resolved, there are the polls … The people behave very well, but the leaders — or those who represent groups or want to charges or aspire to charges — they are spoiled, “the president said.

The clashes have marked the process since its inception, at the end of last summer. In September, during the preparatory assemblies for the primaries there were fights, fists, chairs flying over the heads of the attendees in Campeche, Tabasco, Chiapas and Veracruz. In Jalisco there were shots, two militants were injured and reports of falsified records. The Electoral Tribunal entered the scene for the first time in October, decreeing a postponement of the elections, considering Morena’s electoral roll “unreliable”.

“Since then, the court has had a series of very unfortunate decisions, which has had an inordinate impact on Morena’s internal life,” says Javier Martín Reyes, professor of Legal Studies at CIDE. Since then, the TEPJF went on to direct the party’s internal elections, decreeing that it would be carried out through the controversial polling system. As phases were overcome, and there were contenders along the way, criticism grew, even going so far as to launch accusations of “anticipated fraud.” Almost every criticism resulted in a new appeal to the court, leading the process to a peculiar judicialization. “The problem is that they cannot agree. They are looking for a jurisdictional solution where what they need is a political agreement ”, points out María Marván, a doctor at the UNAM Institute of Legal Research.

The intense judicial intervention has also been the subject of criticism due to the alleged political pressures that have directed the meaning of its resolutions. “It is not such weird behavior. There are always pressures but it is not the inertia of this court. It is a very strange and very powerful institution that, at least, since 2003 has been getting into the private life of the parties ”, adds Marván. In Morena’s surroundings, in any case, there is fear that the verdict of such turbulent elections could destabilize the party in the midst of next year. The final result, the judicial section already closed and after more than a year, will be known on the weekend.