MEXICO CITY – The battle over the chairmanship of Mexico’s leftist ruling party became more heated on Monday as hundreds gathered at Morena’s headquarters to demand that the leading contender respond to accusations of sexual harassment.
Women identifying as supporters of President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who has remained aloof from the party leadership contest, occupied the Morena offices in the capital to prevent Porfirio Muñoz Ledo from holding an event to proclaim himself the winner.
Muñoz Ledo canceled the event in the face of the protest by the group, who cite 10 instances of alleged sexual harassment by the lawmaker involving other politicians, journalists and even minors.
“We not allied with any of the groups and candidates in Morena,” protest spokeswoman Camila said. “We are feminists within the Fourth Transformation (as Lopez Obrador describes his program) and the only thing we’re asking is Porfirio Muñoz Ledo explain what happened.”
The process of choosing a new chair of Morena has been fraught since the TEPJF electoral court ordered the party to conduct an internal plebiscite to decide the contest.
Muñoz Ledo got 41.7 percent of the vote in the first round and advanced to a runoff against No. 2 vote-getter Mario Delgado.
But his support fell to 25.34 percent in the second round, compared with 25.29 percent for Delgado. Election officials proclaimed the result a virtual tie and ordered a third round of voting, yet to be scheduled.
In a video released on Monday, Muñoz Ledo called that decision “absurd” and proclaimed himself “the legitimate chairman of Morena.”
That move prompted some 300 Morena legislators at the state and federal levels to publish an open letter insisting that Muñoz Ledo not be allowed to undermine the institutions of the party.
Partisans of Muñoz Ledo also came to party headquarters on Monday to speak out on his behalf.
“He won legally and legitimately. We ask that the vote of the Morena members and sympathizers be respected,” congresswoman Lorena Villavicencio, a leading Muñoz Ledo ally, told EFE. “Are we or are we not democrats?”
Villavicencio and others on Muñoz Ledo’s side of the contest engaged in arguments with the protesters.
“Accusations are made before the public prosecutor’s office, not today when we are discussing an issue of internal democracy in Morena. Does this not seem strange to you?” she said.
Though Muñoz Ledo has been critical of Lopez Obrador on several major policy questions, the president has remained unwilling to weigh in publicly on the matter of the party chairmanship.
“I don’t opine on that so as not to involves ourselves in partisan matters,” Lopez Obrador said earlier Monday at his daily press briefing. “This is, we’ll say, something very common in parties and they will work it out soon.”