Tag Archives: Nuevo León

Electoral Results, As Anticipated

06/13/2015

By Veronica Ortiz O.

As we wrote here, the midterm election pointed out to some likely unexpected results. Those results finally materialized and provided interesting surprises.

Undoubtedly, the best news was the electoral turnout, despite the threats of violence, boycott, abstention and rallies for “ballot annulling”. With 47% of the voters list showing up, it was the busiest midterm election since 1997. At State level, turnout surpassed an astonishing 60% in Nuevo León. Clearly, people opted for a democratic way to reject violence and provocation.

Interestingly, the percentage of invalid ballots (4.78%) was smaller than in 2009 (5.3%) defeating the “anulista” movement call to waste the whole electoral process. And surprises went even farther:

  1. The victories of the “independent” candidates, or more accurately “no party candidates”. The cases of Pedro Kumamoto (local representative in Jalisco), Manuel Clouthier (Congressman from Sinaloa), César Valdez (mayor in Nuevo León), Alfonso Martínez (mayor in Michoacán) and the rising star Jaime Rodriguez Calderón, a.k.a “Bronco”, elected governor of prosperous northern State of Nuevo León.
  2. The punishment vote and alternation. Five states switched from political colors, as voters punished serious corruption allegations against PAN governor Guillermo Padrés of Sonora and PRI´s governor Rodrigo Medina in Nuevo León. Or as a reaction to blatant abandonment as was the case of PRD in Guerrero and PRI in Michoacán. Finally but on a separate file, the enigmatic loss of PRI´s highly rated administration of Gov. José Calzada in central State of Queretaro, probably due more to an unconvincing campaign by the official candidate or to the decision of a more sophisticated electorate.
  3. Mexico City entering the multi-party system, as voters chose to end18 years of left wing PRD hegemony in the federal district. The party will retain 6 of 16 “delegaciones” (municipalities), while newcomer Morena wins 5, PRI gets 3 and PAN 2. In local Congress elections, Lopez Obrador´s new party Morena gives an outstanding performance wresting the majority of seats forcing down the PRD to second place and right wing PAN to third.
  4. Nationwide, Morena enters the stage as the fourth political force, displacing the green party PVEM. Surely a strong platform for Lopez Obrador´s 2018 presidential ambitions, but that could also prove insufficient to the task.
  5. The three major parties end up losing votes (PRD in a lesser proportion, by the way) but keep the 2012 ranking in Congress, conveying an implicit endorsement to the Pacto por México.

As anticipated, PRI´s victory (along with its allies the Green Party PVEM and the Teachers´ Union Party PANAL) reversed the trend set by the three previous midterm elections where the ruling party lost majority in Congress.

What they make of this victory will give abundant material for further discussion.

* Lawyer and political analyst. Journalist in the newspaper El Economista and TV presenter in Canal del Congreso and AprendeTV in Mexico.

@veronicaortizo

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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.

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As Mexicans Buck Political Status Quo, Independent “El Bronco” Wins Election

By Duncan Wood and Pedro Valenzuela

Originally published in The Wilson Quarterly

A BREAK WITH TRADITION

As the votes from Sunday’s midterm elections were counted in Mexico, it was clear to everyone what the story of the campaigns would be. Jaime Rodríguez Calderón, better known as El Bronco (the rough one), is projected to be the clear winner in the Nuevo León gubernatorial election, more than doubling the vote received by each of his nearest rivals from the ruling Partido Revolucionario Institucional (PRI) and opposition Partido Acción Nacional (PAN) parties.

The truly remarkable thing about Calderón’s candidacy is not his margin of victory, but that he ran and won as an independent — this was the first time in Mexican history that such candidacies were possible. His victory marks a potential sea change in Mexican politics, with voters increasingly tired of the established parties and disillusioned with the traditional political elites.

The midterms were expected to change little at the national level, and at first glance that is what appears to have happened: the ruling PRI held on to its dominance of the federal congress, and there was only sporadic electoral violence in the states of Oaxaca and Guerrero. Yet, a number of key stories emerged on Election Day that hint at significant trends in Mexican democracy.

First, the PRI only managed to hold onto its leading position by working closely with two other parties, the Verde (Green) and PANAL (a teachers’ union party). The PRI’s vote fell to around 29 percent, down from almost 32 percent support in the 2012 congressional elections. With the support of its allies, and the even more disappointing performance of the opposition PAN (21 percent) and PRD (10.6 percent), it will be able to maintain its majority in congress.

Second, there was a high turnout, indicating that the Mexican public was indeed motivated to participate and that the parties were anxious to get as many supporters as possible to the polls.

Third, the left is more divided than ever — the well-established PRD was almost matched in the polls by the breakaway Morena party, run by former PRD leader Andrés Manuel López Obrador. When the votes for the leftwing parties (PRD,Morena, Movimiento Ciudadana, PT) are added together, their total comes to almost the exact same number as the PRI’s.

Fourth, there appears to have been a very high number of spoiled ballots (voto nulo) — almost five percent of the total number of votes cast. This points to a worrying trend towards electoral disenchantment, a tendency borne out by polling data on Mexican skepticism about democracy in recent years.

But the story of the election is clearly El Bronco. The independent candidate for the governorship of Nuevo León, a wealthy northern border state and one of the country’s industrial engines. In his victory, Rodríguez broke the mold of Mexican elections by proving that success can come from outside of the established party system. As an independent, Rodríguez was one of fifty candidates nationwide running without party affiliation — in this, the first election in Mexican history where independents were allowed to run for office.

The national and international media attention El Bronco attracted virtually guaranteed that even if he did not win the governorship, many more independent candidates would come forward in forthcoming elections, including the 2018 presidential contest. Mexicans’ growing disillusionment with traditional party politics and the established modes of democracy in their country may just see an outlet in the prospect of candidates who have broken free from the dominant party paradigm.

LONE RANGER OR PROFESSIONAL POLITICIAN?

“I’m not saying I am Superman, but I could be the Lone Ranger.” El Bronco used this phrase repeatedly during the race, and it served him well. Voters clearly identified with his outsider status, and he appears to have won 49 percent of the vote in Nuevo León, compared with 23 percent each for the PRI and PAN candidates.

Of the 50 independents running in this election, only one other candidate won election, and this is no accident. Current electoral rules make it difficult for independents to compete with candidates from Mexico’s well-established political parties. Though independent candidates are allowed to have access to promotion on radio and television, candidates from political parties receive much more airtime. Campaign funding — which in Mexico has traditionally been entirely public — is more uneven still: independents receive less than one percent the amount the public funding received by their competitors from established political parties.

Though independent candidates can receive private funding, the rules governing this have not been clearly delimited by the authorities. Nor is there clarity on the rules governing independents’ campaign spending. In El Bronco’s race, local authorities declared that the amount of private funds that a candidate can use cannot exceed 10 percent of total campaign expenses. In theory, these rules apply to candidates who receive public money through political parties. If they were applied to El Bronco, it would jeopardize his position because he received the equivalent of $23,000 in public financing — compared to the nearly $3 million that his competitors received just through their political parties. This legal uncertainty raises the prospect of postelectoral instability, challenges, and conflict.

Despite these challenges, El Bronco led the polls in Nuevo León for the past three months, jumping nearly 16 points since March. He received a further boost when, a few weeks ago, Fernando Elizondo, a former interim governor and senator, dropped out of the race and threw his support behind Rodríguez.

Rodríguez’s performance is partly a testament to his considerable political savvy and experience, and partly a reflection of his roots in local and sectoral politics. He is originally from Pablillo, a small town in central Nuevo León with fewer than one thousand inhabitants. As a young agricultural engineering student, Rodríguez fought against increases in public transportation fares and later became the leader of the National Agricultural Confederation in Nuevo León. For that post, he responded to an opponent’s complaints that he wore “exotic leather boots and jeans purchased in the United States” with a speech that rallied farmers to “stop thinking squat, and instead think big,” inviting them to dream of better boots, better tractors, and better incomes. These battles honed his campaign skills and furthered his image as a charismatic, nontraditional politico.

In 2009, after climbing the political ladder to become a federal and local deputy, Rodríguez won election as mayor of García, a municipality with a population of around 145,000 that is part of the metropolitan area of Monterrey, Nuevo León’s capital. Here, he earned a reputation as a strong and determined character.

His government philosophy is called the “García model,” and focuses on three policy areas: security, education, and labor. He considers the participation of government, citizens, and businesses to be fundamental to good governance. To facilitate this as mayor, he used unconventional methods — publishing his private telephone number so he could receive requests directly from the citizenry, or registering complaints and requests through his Facebook page.

At that time, he realized that security was the number one concern of the electorate, so as a first step, he launched a strategy to take back some public spaces that had been claimed by criminals. More dramatically, he dismissed all of the municipal police in García. Those actions won him public trust, but also made him a target of organized crime groups, who kidnapped his two-year-old daughter, murdered one of his older sons, killed his city’s public security minister in the municipality, and tried twice to assassinate him.

As insecurity and violence decreased in Nuevo León, his popularity transcended his term in office and the figure of El Bronco became known in the state and nationwide, with songs and even a film, Un Bronco Sin Miedo (A fearless Bronco), inspired by his story.

In September 2014, Rodríguez decided to give up his membership to the PRI because he foresaw difficulties in obtaining the nomination to run for governor. In his resignation letter, he expressed the ideas that became the banners of his campaign for governor: political parties are no longer responsive to citizens’ demands, and the community is angry and tired of corrupt politicians.

Relying heavily on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube as means to promote himself, he obtained registration as gubernatorial candidate. El Broncoran his campaign based on the strength of his personality and charisma. Through informal and often obscenity-laced speeches, he increased his popular support, promising to always speak the truth to citizens, and insisting that with courage and strategy, an effective and lasting security strategy can be built.

THE MEANING OF EL BRONCO

Doubts remain as to the nature of the governor-elect. Is he truly independent, breaking away from the established model, or should we instead see him as a former party man who is first and foremost an opportunist and professional politician, someone who has seen the writing on the wall and is willing to do what it takes to win office?

No matter what kind of governor El Bronco turns out to be, the rise of independent candidates should be read as a call for political parties to increase internal competition and improve the quality of their candidates. Parties clearly need to recapture the allegiance of the growing number of Mexicans who have lost faith in the established model. At the same time, civil society movements such as the 3de3 initiative (which calls on candidates to make a full disclosure of their business and financial interests) are raising public awareness about the issues of corruption and conflict of interest. Latinobarómetro polls consistently place Mexico at or near the bottom of the Latin American region in terms of citizen satisfaction with democracy.

Whatever the more generalized implications of this for elections, El Bronco’s particular style of governing will be difficult to repeat at the gubernatorial level, and he will have to find new ways to face the challenges to come. Nonetheless, Jaime Rodríguez Calderón has bucked the status quo and emerged as the most compelling character of Mexico’s 2015 midterms.

More intriguingly, as Luis Carlos Ugalde, former president of the electoral body in Mexico, recently said in an event at the Wilson Center, we cannot rule out the possibility that an independent candidate could run for president in 2018; while he or she will not likely have the strength to emerge victorious, they might win enough votes to tip the balance.

The rise of El Bronco is emblematic of the rising disenchantment on the part of the Mexican electorate with the country’s political parties, and will likely prove to be a disruptive factor in national politics for years to come.

* * *

Duncan Wood is the director of the Mexico Institute at the Wilson Center. Follow him on Twitter at @AztecDuncanPedro Valenzuela is a consultant with the Mexico Institute.

A Fragmented Political Landscape

Andrew SeleeBy Andrew Selee

It’s too early to know the full impact of yesterday’s elections in Mexico, but there is no question that these were far more momentous than midterm elections usually are, with profound short-term and long-term consequences for the future of Mexico’s political system.  Here are four quick takeaways on the implications of the results:

* The political landscape in Mexico is now more fragmented than ever before with no single party towering over the others.  Mexico has long been a political system based on three strong parties and a few smaller ones.  Now there are at least five, if not more, that appear to have a significant base of support.  The victory of an independent candidate in Nuevo Leon, Mexico’s most economically important state, sets a very important precedent that will decentralize the political system even more in the future and allow citizens to organize outside the traditional parties.

* It was a mixed night for President Enrique Pena Nieto and the PRI.  Although the PRI appears to have won the largest number of votes for Congress and state governors, the party won less than 30 percent of the vote, appears to have lost a few crucial governors’ races that it had expected to win (Nuevo Leon, Queretaro, and Michoacan), and will have to piece together a working majority in the Congress with the Green Party, the New Alliance Party, and perhaps a few others on key votes.  Of course, it’s not unusual for the incumbent party to lose ground in the midterm elections (this is the fourth straight time it’s happened), but the PRI seemed to be in a particularly strong position going into this election and expected to do much better.  This election is hardly a repudiation of Pena Nieto’s government — which will likely be able to move forward with its reform agenda in Congress — but it’s certainly not a ringing endorsement either.

* The PAN came in as the second strongest party, though it received only a fifth of the votes, and the left divided like never before among various parties.  Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador’s party, Morena, made a very respectable showing against the PRD, probably winning five of Mexico City’s delegations (municipalities) and presenting a strong challenge to the PRD in the bastion of the left.

* The elections were actually carried out in relative peace, despite attempts to disrupt them in three states in the south.  However, an unusually high number of voters (roughly five percent) appear to have left their ballots blank in protest against all of the political parties.

In the next few hours, we will know more about how the main parties ended up and who will govern each state, but clearly this is an election that has shaken the foundations of Mexico’s political system like few others.

Andrew Selee is the Executive Vice President of the Wilson Center and Senior Advisor to the Mexico Institute.

El Bronco: Blunt, Frequently Vulgar, and Aiming to Run Nuevo León

in  The New York Times 05/24/15

MONTERREY, Mexico — He goes by the nickname El Bronco, and he aims to buck the political system in Mexico.

For the first time since a constitutional change in Mexico in 2012 allowing independent candidates, one is making a serious run for governor. And the political world is eager to see if he upsets the entrenched order, not just in his state but also in a nation increasingly frustrated and exhausted by the status quo.

It also helps that the insurgent comes in the form of Jaime Rodríguez Calderón, 57, a cursing former mayor and rancher in cowboy hat and boots who wants to run Nuevo León, a large state along the Texas border that is a hub for big business as well as organized crime.

Mr. Rodríguez, in interviews and on the campaign trail, veers from humility to arrogance, calling himself a simple, unvarnished rancher while making it clear, over and over, that he has the fortitude — he uses an anatomically vulgar synonym — to set things right.

“We are about to make history,” he said in an interview on Thursday as he prepared for the final dash to the June 7 state and local elections. “We are about to prove to people that in this country you don’t need money or parties, you just need people to change things around.”

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New Candidate Jolts Mexican Politics

By Dudley Althaus in  The Wall Street Journal 05/22/15

MONTERREY, Mexico—A maverick former mayor known as El Bronco is mounting a competitive bid as Mexico’s first independent gubernatorial candidate, a sign of Mexican voters’ rancor toward the country’s traditional political parties.

Running a social media campaign waged on a shoestring—supporters press crumpled bills into his hands on the stump— Jaime Rodríguez is shaking up politics in Nuevo Leon, the conservative northern border state that includes the industrial powerhouse of Monterrey, and jolting politicians nationwide.

An opinion poll published Friday in El Norte, Monterrey’s leading newspaper, puts Mr. Rodríguez ahead of his rival from the ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, in the June 7 vote. The PRI has ruled Nuevo Leon for 80 of the past 86 years.

Mr. Rodríguez’s unlikely bid has emerged as one of the most watched in a midterm vote that will replace all 500 members of Mexico’s lower house of Congress, nine governors and hundreds of state legislators, mayors and city councils. Polls suggest that the PRI and its allies are likely to retain a slight majority in Congress.

But that doesn’t mean all is well in Mexico for the ruling party. Mr. Rodríguez, a rancher, businessman and thrice married father of six, represents a new page in Mexican politics: the rise of independent candidates running against the traditional parties, something that was illegal until a 2014 political overhaul passed by congress.

“This is making the political parties tremble because a candidate without a party, a structure or resources is giving them a fight,” Mr. Rodríguez, 58, said in an interview.

June’s vote takes place amid mounting voter frustration with continued underworld violence, a lackluster economy, and corruption scandals that have hit all three major parties, especially the PRI. President Enrique Peña Nieto and his finance minister have come under scrutiny for property deals they made with government contractors. They both deny any wrongdoing. Civic groups have accused family members of Nuevo Leon’s current governor illicit enrichment through dirty land deals. They deny wrongdoing.

“We have a cancer which has to be eradicated and that’s corruption,” Mr. Rodríguez said to whoops and applause at a recent stop in Monterrey’s wealthiest suburb. “I don’t want to be just one more governor, I want to change the system.”

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