The News
Friday 19 of July 2024

Independent Demagogues

Since Jaime Rodríguez took a stand, independent candidates for public office have become a staple of Mexican elections — but they may not be breaking with all political traditions

The upcoming June 5 elections for governor in 12 different states would be business as usual, except for the fact that a new phenomenon has hit Mexican democracy: independent candidates.

This new way of running for office was accepted as legal just last year and it was in the industrial state Nuevo León that an independent candidate, Jaime Rodríguez, defeated all the “official” party candidates.

Rodriguez, better known as “El Bronco”, ran an efficient campaign which was in fact too efficient to come from a rookie politician. “El Bronco”, as it turns out, had been a militant for the Institutional Revolutionary Party for 33 years.

Two years ago, when he learned that then-party leader Cesar Camacho was going to postulate Ivonne Alvarez for the office of governor — and not him — he splintered from the PRI to run, and won as an independent. “El Bronco” beat Alvarez’ hands down, running on the platform that he was going to “unmask” now former PRI Gov. Rodrigo Medina’s “great theft” of the state’s funds.

There were also other candidates, but the true fight was between “El Bronco” and Alvarez, whose case, by the way, proved that Cesar Camacho to be what many knew, incompetent and unworthy of leading the nation’s largest political organization to victory. Camacho had to pay a price for his failure, he is now a federal deputy for the PRI.

But what Rodríguez did was set an example for other “independents” as how to run and win a race. He also served as an example for the other hopefuls who did not receive their political party’s nomination.

As it turns out, in the June 5 12-state governors’ elections, an impressive figure of 27 independent candidates have registered to contend. As in “El Bronco’s” case, the great majority are rejects, but are not posing a veritable threat to their alma maters.

In short, “independents” can also be what party line candidates are: demagogues.”

-Ricardo Castillo. The News columnist

Despite their chances, the election of Rodríguez as an independent governor was not merely a salvo shot, but a very real threat to an establishment made up of 10 political parties who find haven in Mexico, the country which subsidizes and pays for the lives — and wages — of party politicians.

Right now it is not clear who these independent candidacies will benefit. Some claim that they will only benefit President Peña Nieto’s PRI but this assertion doesn’t hold much water as the proof is in the pudding; “El Bronco” defeated the PRI in Nuevo León.

For the upcoming election, all independent candidates have had to garner a number of supporting signatures from registered voters, which everyone is claiming was difficult to do mainly because these are state, not national, elections.

But all of them managed to register to run for governor. Of the 27, 17 are former party line members, but the candidates for governor are not the only ones running for an elected post. There are approximately 425 independent candidates running for office in the coming elections, many of whom are competing to become municipal mayors, as well as state deputies and senators.

What “El Bronco” managed to teach this new type of Mexican politicians is the tone they should use in a campaign, that they should pose as honest, integral people. Despite the fact that, as it turned out with Jaime Rodríguez, none of the candidate’s campaign promises have coalesced into a meaningful action.

In short, “independents” can also be what party line candidates are: demagogues.