Category Archives: Election Monitor

El “bronquito” Kumamoto Triumphs as an Independent Candidate

6/11/2015 by Victoria Dagli 

kumamoto

25 year-old Pedro Kumamoto made history this past Sunday, June 7, 2015, by becoming the first independent candidate to ever win a legislative position in the State of Jalisco.  Kumamoto believes that it is the citizens, and not the political parties, who should be at the center of a democracy.  For this reason, he decided to run as an independent candidate and challenge the traditional way of making successful politics in Mexico:

–    With less than $500 USD to fund his pre-campaign, he managed to gather more than the 2% of signatures required by law to establish himself as a legitimate candidate.

–    With only $1,193 USD of funding provided by the Government, in comparison to the millions of dollars that political parties generally get, he managed to push forward a political campaign and successfully win the election.

–    Instead of relying on large amounts of funding like traditional parties do, Kumamoto focused his efforts on designing and implementing a political campaign based on the use of free tools, such as social media and word of mouth, that managed to create a unique and powerful grassroots movement.

–    Kumamoto was also the first candidate in Mexico to make publicly available his fiscal documents (declaración patrimonial) after the Mexican Institute for Competitiveness proposed a law to force all candidates to do so.

Kumamoto rose from a society that has become increasingly dissatisfied with the traditional political parties that have always dominated Mexico. Representing one of the wealthiest districts of Guadalajara’s metropolitan area, he broke the historical association that the wealthier classes had for the PRI and the PAN. Increasing violence and insecurity in a State that used to be one of the safest in the country have encouraged Jalisco’s citizens to actively unite under the leadership of other citizens, rather than depending on the proposals and solutions that traditional parties have repeatedly failed to materialize.  Kumamoto’s victory portrays not only a win but also the start of a new movement that has begun to take place in Mexico, where independent leaders such as himself and el Bronco are starting to emerge and gain the electorate’s trust and vote. Should this trend continue to grow, it will become of great interest to see how other new faces emerge and compete against candidates from traditional parties during the 2018 Presidential Elections.

Photo: Facebook user- Pedro Kumamoto 

Mexico’s Midterm Elections Likely to Reflect President’s Woes

6/5/15 Wall Street Journal

Mexico’s midterm elections Sunday are shaping up as a referendum on President Enrique Peña Nieto, whose early popularity for passing ambitious measures to lift the economy has been undercut by a resurgence in gang violence and corruption scandals.

Most pre-election polls suggest the ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, with the help of coalition partners, could retain its scant majority in the 500-seat lower house of Congress. But polls also show Mr. Peña Nieto’s party faces strong challenges in seven of nine state governorships at stake.

Read more…

Tough-Talking El Bronco Wins Mexican Governor’s Race

6/8/15 The New York Times

A cussing rancher known as El Bronco, who made the first serious run for governor as an independent candidate in Mexico, trounced his competition in midterm elections, according to preliminary official results on Monday, in a race closely watched as a sign of voter frustration with entrenched, established parties often seen as ineffectual and corrupt.

The candidate, Jaime Rodríguez Calderón, running for governor of Nuevo León State, a business and industrial hub near the Texas border, received 49 percent of the vote. He defeated his closest rival, a candidate from the governing Institutional Revolutionary Party, known as the PRI, by 25 percentage points.

Read more…

Mexico’s ‘Bronco’ Wins in Nuevo Leon as PRI Keeps House Lead

6/8/15 Bloomberg

Independent candidate Jaime “El Bronco” Rodriguez defied eight decades of precedent Sunday to win the governor’s office in Nuevo Leon, one of Mexico’s wealthiest states, in a rebuke of the established political parties.

In national voting, President Enrique Pena Nieto’s Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, and its allies are poised to remain the dominant force in the lower house, as forecast by polls, according to the electoral institute. Final results are expected by Wednesday. While protesters held demonstrations in southern states over issues ranging from Pena Nieto’s education overhaul to a massacre of 43 students last year, less than one percent of polling stations were unable to open, according to authorities.

Read more…

Independent Wins Mexican Governorship

6/8/15 Wall Street Journal

A maverick former mayor became Mexico’s first independent candidate to win a governor’s seat, riding a wave of voter anger against the country’s traditional political parties.

The news from Sunday’s midterm elections wasn’t all bad for President Enrique Peña Nieto, however: His ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, and its allies appeared likely to keep a slim majority in the lower house of Congress, according to early official results. The runaway victory of Jaime “El Bronco” Rodriguez in Nuevo León state, an industrial powerhouse and home to some of Mexico’s biggest corporations, could spark a wave of independent candidacies nationwide for the 2018 presidential vote, a development analysts said might threaten traditional political parties’ grip on power.

Read more…

ELECTION MONITOR 06.04.15

By Pedro Valenzuela Parcero

Gubernatorial Debates

Since a little over 20 years ago, holding debates between candidates has become common in the Mexican political environment. Naturally, the first efforts were made during presidential campaigns. In fact, the first presidential debate was held during the 1994 elections. However, from that moment on, gubernatorial debates have been also increasingly common. The first public and broadcasted debate of this type was in 1997, during the first campaign to elect the Mayor of Mexico City. Debates have been driven either by electoral authorities or by media outlets. In this context, during the campaigns that today come to an end, there have been debates among the candidates for most of the 2015 gubernatorial elections.

Nuevo León, one of the most important states whose gubernatorial election became more competitive as campaigns advances, had 5 debates. One organized by electoral authorities, one more organized by the Civic Council Citizen through its platform Nuevo León ¿Cómo Vamos? two organized by universities (the University of Monterrey and Universidad Regiomontana) and the other one organized by El Norte, a leading newspaper from Grupo Reforma. Some have been summoned all candidates and in others only the pointers in the polls.

In all debates, each of the candidates has established his or her priorities and government plans in case of winning. The most recurrent themes were corruption and transparency, security, urban planning, and social and economic development. As a symbol of a closed competition, the meetings have not been free of attacks and insults among candidates.

Nuevo León debate organized by Nuevo León ¿Cómo Vamos? (in Spanish)

Nuevo León debate organized by the University of Monterrey (in Spanish)

Nuevo León debate organized by electoral authorities (in Spanish)

Nuevo León debate organized by El Norte (in Spanish)

In Michoacán, electoral authorities organized two debates. All the candidates were invited. Given the latest developments in the state, it was no surprise that much of the discussion centered on proposals and recriminations on the subject of security.

Michoacán first debate (in Spanish)

In Guerrero, state electoral authorities hosted a debate among all candidates for the governorship. As in the case of Michoacán, security was a recurring issue in all of the speeches and proposals. The candidates also addressed issues of poverty, tourism, public health, and social development.

Guerrero first debate (in Spanish)

Other entities such as Sonora, Querétaro, San Luis Potosí, Baja California Sur, and Campeche also carried out one or two debates among candidates. In most states, there were other spaces where candidates contrast their proposals.

Querétaro first debate (in Spanish)

Sonora first debate (in Spanish)

Undoubtedly, the debates are important to the electorate, as they are spaces in which the contrast of ideas and positions is clearer than in speeches and/or political rallies. Of course, these kind of democratic exercises also serve to discredit and attack the opponents, which is also a good sign of democracy, as the political act is not without the clash of ideas. It is positive that debates in Mexico are becoming more common and that the both citizens and the media see these spaces as the right place to bounce ideas among the various candidates. Hopefully, these exercises will also help to increase citizen participation in the elections next Sunday.

 

 

ELECTION MONITOR 04.30.15

By Pedro Valenzuela Parcero

Campaigns’ content and low enthusiasm for the election

According to a study requested by the National Electoral Institute (INE), only 47% of Mexicans know the correct date of the legislative elections, a figure that rises to 51% in states where there is also a gubernatorial election. Furthermore, only 38% of voters intend to vote on Election Day, although some of them indicated that they will either spoil the ballot or leave it blank. That number increases to 45% in states with gubernatorial elections.

These figures are in line with historical data in Mexico. According to the Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance, voter turnout in the legislative elections in Mexico was 44.61% in 2009, 41.68% in 2003, and 57.69% in 1997. These numbers are lower in comparison with the turnout for legislative elections when there are also Presidential elections. For example in 2012, the turnout was 62.45%, and in 2006, it was 58.60%.

According to a study by BGC, 80% of voters believe that the campaigns are concentrating more on criticizing opponents than spreading proposals. According to their study, the most effective campaigns have been those of the PAN and the PVEM (Green Party), followed by the PRI. In the case of the PAN, their criticism of government corruption and their promises of improving security are the two most remembered issues. For the Greens, voters acknowledge that the party has already fulfilled some proposals related to health and security; in the case of the PRI, both criticism of PAN corruption and other benefits of the reforms already approved during this administration are recognized by voters.

 

An example of this last situation is the gubernatorial race for the northern state of Sonora, which has recently received attention for other reasons. The leading candidates of both the PRI and the PAN have been involved in headline-making scandals on the front pages of the major national newspapers. For the PRI, the candidate was accused of improperly benefiting contractors in federal biddings and then was also accused of misusing a foreign-registered aircraft during the campaign. In the case of the PAN, the candidate has been accused of paying for the use of a plane owned by his wife with campaign contributions and was also accused of receiving a multi-million tax-amnesty by the state government. These recent revelations highlight the heated level of the political battle in Mexico and highlight the fact that it has become key to disqualify the opponent. Furthermore, the events in Sonora are surprising since those accusations and the evidence around them are not gathered easily.

In conclusion, these elections have very clear issues to face, such as security in some states, social unrest derived from the missing students, and corruption scandals at all levels of government. However, if these ingredients are coupled with the fact that political participation is generally lower in midterm elections, then it is clear that the challenge of attracting voters is enormous. In this context, is uncertain if political communication strategies chosen by the parties during these campaigns will encourage voter turnout, or in fact could have the opposite effect, lowering participation.