The Return of the PRI
By Mariana Martinez
Baja California held elections for mayors on Sunday, but only 30% of those who could vote actually did, and it was only to give a sweeping win to PRI Party, who ended up putting mayors in all the five cities in the state.
This is a symptom of the voters being disillusioned with the political process and parties, but also a clear rejection for the actions and plans laid out by the party in power, PAN.
Current governor José Guadalupe Osuna Millán, -who belongs to PAN, held a quick press conference where he publicly invited the newly elected mayors to work together with the state government and legislature, and put aside their ideological differences.
He also admitted those negative results are a clear message in need of further analysis, especially because PAN has not had such a defeat in the state since 1989.
“The middle class has been traditionally supportive of PAN and this time that changed, instead, they expressed their clear rejection and it’s going to be key to find out the cause of that so we can govern better…We will need to ask the people what is it about the way we have governed that we need to revise… and change plans…” he said.
Amongst the districts that turned their back on PAN was the X District in Tijuana, an exclusive residential area where the current mayor and many other political figures have a home, including PAN Mayoral candidate Carlos Torres Torres who was defeated by longtime Tijuana business man Carlos Bustamante Anchondo.
“Neither candidate was truly what I want” said 36 year old Tijuana resident Emiko Togawa, who is a resident of the X district. “I had to vote for the lesser of two evils, because neither where offering what I need: less corruption and commitment to the people.”
Another voter in the same polling place, 45 year old Javier Ledezma, kept nodding as he heard Ms. Togawa speak.
“Im just as sick of both parties, PAN, PRI, same old thing, but here I am, cornered into choosing one of them, so I chose Torres…” he said, “But I would much rather vote for an independent candidate; too bad currently the law doesn’t allow that to happen.”
It seems the answer the governor is looking for, might not need to be done in an expensive statewide poll that will cost the state a huge amount of money.
I suggest he and his team take a look at social networks such as Facebook, where people from Baja California have been “screaming” their answer for days.
“I wake up with a promotional ad from PAN, where they claim to be the party of the people and claim to be responsible, generous and humane politicians. I take the first sip of coffee in total disbelief” is what one Playas resident has on his profile.
Some FB users have even engaged in political debates.
After one user claimed her stomach hurts every time she passes by Las Torres buildings (owned by the elected mayor Bustamante) one of her friends replied:
“…and doesn’t your tummy hurt every time you pass by Agua Caliente residential and you see half of the cities police cars guarding just one house [the current mayor’s], is that fair to all of us, after Tijuana is riddled by violence?”.
Political analysts in the state, including local think tank COLEF, have claimed the PRI’s triumphs came due to a divided PAN party base, many of them saw Torres as an imposed candidate by president Calderon.
Other factors where violence, unemployment and a clear rejection to federal policies such as militarization, the new IETU tax and the SIAVE program that lead to long border waits coming South.
Baja California is not alone, as it echoes the national tendency, where elections were held in 15 states and only one is a clear PAN victory.
But maybe the comment that sums PAN’s failures and the feeling of the “average Joe” is found in FB:
“PAN was particularly obnoxious. They promised free internet while most people don’t have computers; free public transportation for university students while most can’t afford college; promise to take down the car tax, and even they found that hard to believe. For those in power this might come as a total surprise but the people are not always stupid.”