MEXICO CITY (AP) — A top leader of Mexico’s governing party said Friday that the group suffered setbacks in the capital in last weekend's elections because it has lost touch with the middle class.
Mexico City was once an unquestionable stronghold for President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, but in Sunday’s mid-term elections his Morena party lost in nine of the city’s 16 boroughs.
The opposition won the entire, wealthier west side of the city, while Morena took all of the poorer east side, sparking a flurry of memes on the internet showing the capital divided by a Berlin-style wall running down the middle.
López Obrador blamed the results on what he calls a “dirty war” by traditional media against his administration. He claimed Mexico City residents were more influenced by the media than voters in other parts of the country, where Morena did well, winning 11 of the 15 governorships at stake. It lost seats in congress, though it still controls the lower house with help from allied parties.
But Morena's secretary general, Citlalli Hernández, attributed the Mexico City results to the party failing to make contact with the huge middle class in the city of 9 million people.
“We have have been losing the ability to create a narrative that connects with the middle class that traditionally supported us," Hernández said. She also cited similar problems with feminists, the business community and journalists.
López Obrador frequently compares journalists to vultures, and criticizes parts of the business community as corrupt. He often describes civic groups, feminists and other critics as being part of the “conservative” opposition.
It is unclear how much Morena's unexpected losses in Mexico City had to do with such spats.
Mexico City suffered more than many other parts of the country during the coronavirus pandemic, and memories were still fresh from the collapse of an elevated section of the Mexico City subway system in May that killed 26 people.
Hernández disagreed that those events were the decisive factors, saying she felt voters in the capital were influenced more by national-level issues.
“There is a dirty war," she said, “but internal issues are, I think, the main challenge.” There have been persistent reports that Morena was weakened by intra-party feuds.
Hernández said one part of the party “seeks to repeat some of the traditional (political) practices, while the other part wants to completely renovate all the political practices of the past that we didn't like.”
“We have members who were recycled from other parties, some with questions about their past," Hernández said. “And these contradictions are no doubt a factor for the public, which is fed up with traditional parties.”
While Hernández was careful not to criticize López Obrador — who essentially created the party to support his presidential bid, and dominates it totally — she did say there are those who would like to see the president “qualify” his sometimes confrontational speaking style.
In the meantime, the city's efforts to heal the stark divisions haven't been helped by memes depicting the city divided like Berlin into capitalist and communist zones, or between “those who pay taxes” on one side and “those who receive subsidies” on the other.
López Obrador slammed such memes Friday, calling them “classist, racist, and moreover false.”
Even former President Felipe Calderón, who seldom agrees with López Obrador, came out Friday against the memes, writing in his Twitter account: “Polarization is a strategy to divide, weaken, confront and defeat Mexicans. Don't promote this, even as a joke!”