Someones ability to be surprised doesn’t depend on reality, but on who is observing it. For those who assume that they know everything, it is natural that nothing surprises them. Nevertheless, there is a lot to be observed in what will happen in the electoral process that culminates in June.
The most relevant thing to do is verify the complexity of the change that began to present itself in 2012 and that was confirmed in 2015: the invasion of a new citizenship, inclined to a radical transformation in the political system. Today, anti-establishment creates credibility. Because of the implications, risks and transformative achievements of this scene, it is necessary to understand its dynamic and perspective in the general elections of 2018.
We can’t trivialize what happened and what was discovered in 2015 when the three big historical parties had less significance in the voting. Two anti-establishment expressions forcefully invaded at the same time: Morena, which was implemented in Mexico City and in other places, and the independent candidates like Jamie Rodríguez in Nuevo León, among others.
What happened in the governor elections in the northern state is not a small issue. The two parties that had dominated the electoral debate for many years were marginalized by a candidate who made his campaign a rejection of parties and their governments.
What was outlined at the beginning of the campaigns for the 12 governors, was an electorate alienated from the traditional political system. At least a third is willing to vote for anti-establishment options and what’s moving the cause is not the proposal or the candidate, but a sense of annoyance and a rejection of what exists. This third is a conglomerate that transversely runs throughout society, a public prisoner for a discourse that does not require a future offer, only an incentive for unconformity. This group of outraged citizens converts independent candidates and Morena into options.
These new political expressions mean that the argument has a place in very different terms than from the ones we have seen before. On one hand, to receive the majority of the votes, the winning candidate can survive with a low percentage. On the other hand, it ratifies the strategies of coalitions like a road to success. In fact, the past election in Colima offers a good perspective: the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) wouldn’t have won the election by itself; the National Action Party (PAN) candidate, without a coalition and competing with the Ciudadano movement as opposition, moved farther away from victory after a practically tied election; and the Ciudadano movement, in this case the anti-establishment expression, gained more than 12 percent of the votes.
This also implies more electoral uncertainty. The PRI could difficulty obtain nine triumphs despite the praiseworthy work of its national leader, who the credit of the extraordinary election in Colima can be credited to. The Strategic Communication Committee’s (GCE) report for the 12 governor elections, clearly gave victory to the PRI in Hidalgo and in Sinaloa at the beginning of the campaign. In the rest of the elections there was competition, in some cases adverse, like in Puebla.
The Democratic Revolution Party (PRD) should be concerned about the numbers. It is being overtaken by Morena almost everywhere. Their hope of keeping Oaxaca is fading into the horizon. There, a contest between four different parties is taking place, which may cause one of the candidates of the left, not the one from Morena, to abandon the race in favor of another, late in the campaign. The onslaught of Andrés Manuel López Obrador against the PAN-PRD candidate in Veracruz, Miguel Ángel Yunes, can mean, as the GCE survey showed April 15, a 30 percent decline in the popularity of the coalition candidate. This could put the Morena candidate squarely in the race, if he could manage to attract all the undecided voters.
There are two cases of anti-establishment candidates nominated by fringe parties who are competitive, although still far away from winning: Benjamín Robles in Oaxaca and Melesio Cuen in Sinaloa. The effect their incursion has had is affecting the chances of victory for the ruling coalition in both states. The candidates nominated by the PRI-led coalition can have a hope of winning because of their territorial structure and the horizontality of the vote, in both cases.
Independent candidates do not have to win in order to validate their electoral effectiveness, and neither does Morena. This is about getting good results and being credible as an option. Even a tenth of the vote is of great importance. The most competitive independent candidate is José Luis Barraza, in Chihuahua, followed by Juan Bueno Torio in Veracruz, Francisco Frías in Sinaloa and José Chavira in Tamaulipas.
The candidates from Morena who are worth noting at the beginning of the campaign are David Monreal in Zacatecas, Cuitláhuac García in Veracruz, Salomón Jara in Oaxaca, Abraham Quiroz in Puebla, Martha Palafox in Tlaxcala, and José Luis Pech in Quintana Roo.
The PAN is losing important territories such as Sinaloa and the incursion of an independent candidate in Chihuahua makes it less competitive. However, the PAN would keep Puebla, and their candidates in Veracruz, Quintana Roo, Durango, Tamaulipas and Aguascalientes are showing popularity among voters. As noted, the terms of the contest are not only defined by what the PAN or the PRI do, but by the incursion of the other candidates.
The start frame is dynamic. That is the purpose of campaigns: Modifying the initial coordinates in which the race will develop. The anti-establishment candidates have a strength in the environment, but also some adverse conditions regarding the privileges and the access to conventional advertising and propaganda. The initial profile will surely change at the time of the election. Either way, what is happening now is clearly different from what has happened in the past, so what will have to be carefully observed after the outcome will be the performance of not only of the anti-establishment candidates, but the new expressions of pluralism that allude to two linked realities: the depletion of traditional systems of representation and the emergence of a new citizenship.