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Mexican ruling party loses majority in Morelos state

March 21, 1997

MEXICO CITY (AP) _ Mexico’s ruling party has lost control of the legislature in the southern state of Morelos _ its third such setback in the last year _ according to final vote counts released Thursday.

The ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, which has held Mexico’s presidency and most governorships without interruption for 68 years, also has lost key mayoral races in the largest cities surrounding Mexico City. It faces stiffer opposition than ever before in mid-term congressional, state and gubernatorial elections scheduled for July 6.

In Morelos, the PRI took eight of the 18 state legislative districts, the leftist Party of the Democratic Revolution, or PRD, won seven seats and a right-center opposition party took three.

``I would not say the Morelos elections indicate the PRI will lose in Mexico City, but they certainly mark the resurgence of the PRD as a political force,″ said Jorge Estudillo of the Mexican Institute of Political Studies.

Final results were still not available in a key mayoral race in the state capital of Cuernavaca, 50 miles south of Mexico City, four days after Sunday’s elections.

According to preliminary figures, the right-center National Action Party, or PAN _ which already holds the mayorships of most large Mexican cities _ is leading in a tight race with the PRI.

While fraud has marked previous elections _ especially those in which there have been delays in releasing the final counts _ observers said Sunday’s voting had been unusually peaceful and undisputed.

The PRD also won mayoral races in a total of 13 towns and cities _ of a total 33 at stake _ including the largest cities outside the state capital, while the PRI took 17 mayorships, mainly in smaller towns.

There is a growing trend of dissatisfaction with the ruling party, which many blame for a continuing economic crisis, and whose credibility has been bruised by corruption scandals and political assassinations.

In the past year, the PRI has lost majorities in the states of Coahuila and Mexico. The party continues to hold a majority in both houses of the national congress.

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