By Pedro Valenzuela Parcero
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.