The theme of the recent Mexico election was discontent in the mainstream party system. Many voters voted for candidates who bucked the party system, despite facing threat of violence against themselves and their families from political opponents and cartels. Nonetheless, more than one independent candidate was elected.
Governor-elect Jaime Rodriguez campaigned on horseback, calling himself “El Bronco.” And now, he is the first independent candidate elected to major public office in modern Mexican history in what is being called a landslide in Sunday’s race for governor of Nuevo Leon, among the nation’s wealthiest and most important states.
“We have started what many wanted and never dared,” Rodriguez said in one of a string of victory speeches. “The parties have a lot of rethinking to do, both in Nuevo Leon and in the whole country.”
His election is the result of anger over corruption and deadly violence that taints all major political parties.
“It’s no more politics as usual,” said Gustavo Gil, director of political analysis for the Integralia consulting group. “This is a total shift.”
Voters, Gil said, want “new parties, new politicians and a new message.”
President Enrique Peña Nieto’s ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, did better than was predicted by some, gaining an absolute majority alongside two small allied parties in the lower house of Congress.
As LA Times writes:
El Bronco — an untamed steed who bucks the system — ran his campaign with a minimal budget, using candid chatter and backslapping bravado to hit the populist chords that resonated with a disaffected public. He made ample use of Twitter and Facebook.
“One dead son, one kidnapped 2-year-old daughter and 2,800 bullet holes in my truck,” was a favorite refrain of El Bronco along the campaign trail, calling to mind his family’s suffering at the mercy of criminal gangs.
“Nuevo Leon will be the beginning of a second Mexican revolution,” Rodriguez, 57, told supporters as votes were being tallied in Monterrey, the capital of Nuevo Leon and Mexico’s third-largest and probably wealthiest city in a state of 4.6 million.
El Bronco was a member of the PRI until he left the party one year ago, and some are skeptical of how independent he truly is. His “caudillo swagger” concerns some President Felipe Calderon likened him to Hugo Chavez.
Rodriquez beat all predictions, securing approximately half the vote in the four-way race, deseating the PRI governor, with half of the votes.
“We are giving the parties that have been governing a six-year vacation,” he said, alluding to the length of the governor’s term. “People like [candidates] who tell them the truth and who sound like them,” he said in explaining his success.
First thing Rodriguez promised is an investigation into the possible corruption of his predecessor, Gov. Rodrigo Medina, and Medina’s family for using Medina’s position to collect wealth and real estate.
Just 130 of 16,000 candidates in the elections ran as independents. Likely, Rodriguez will have to reach out to other parties,
“It wouldn’t be a divided government but a completely isolated one,” Crespo said in an analysis before the election.
Manuel Clouthier is a former member of the National Action Party and current independent-elect, who will take a seat in Congress alongside Rodriguez.
“We cannot commit the error that the parties did by turning their backs on society,” he said in a radio interview. “And today, society turned its back on the parties.”
The new term begins in December.