Whether they like it or not, the citizens of Jalisco will be subjected to an incessant barrage of political propaganda over next three months as the election season roars into top gear and candidates work overtime to influence the hearts and minds of voters.
Besides a new president of the nation, up for grabs in Jalisco on election day (Sunday, July 1) are the governor’s post, 125 mayoral seats, the entire State Congress (39 seats), federal deputies and senators.
“Official” campaigning began March 31 with seven registered candidates vying to win Jalisco’s top job, presently in the hands of Aristoteles Sandoval of the Partido Revolucionario Institutional (PRI).
Polls suggest – and most analysts believe – that the governor’s race will morph into a tight contest between the PRI’s Miguel Castro and Enrique Alfaro of the Movimiento Ciudadano (MC), the former mayor of Guadalajara.
The battle promises to be a contrast in styles.
Alfaro’s feisty “man of the people” modus operandi is diametrically opposed to Castro’s measured, more disciplined approach to politics. The difference in their strategies was clear from the outset, as both candidates kicked off their campaigns last Sunday at large public gatherings.
Vowing sweeping reforms to give Jalisco more autonomy and a bigger say in its own decisions, Alfaro launched a campaign promise/slogan to “Refundar Jalisco” (Refound Jalisco).
“No longer [will we be] a state ignored by the federal government, with a governor kneeling and capitulating to the president of the republic,” Alfaro bellowed from his soap box.
Castro, meanwhile, unveiled his own slogan and plan for government: “Tu haces Jalisco” (You make Jalisco), based around five key themes – social development, peace, security and justice, inclusive prosperity, the planet and alliances. The 27 subsections emanating from these themes will include 90 concrete proposals that Castro said will be fully expanded on throughout the campaign.
In an undisguised dig at his larger-than-life rival, Castro said his campaign would not center on the cult of personality but the voices of the people. “You can’t be a leader by fueling division and hatred,” he said. “We are going to win because our proposals come from all the people, respecting their differences.”
Alfaro is comfortably out front in the polls but is no shoo-in. He lost to Sandoval six years ago and his two years at the helm of Guadalajara city hall have been a bumpy ride, earning him equal amounts of praise and criticism for digging in on issues such as banishing street vendors and horse-drawn carriages from the municipality.
At Sunday’s campaign starter, Alfaro said he has learned from his errors while serving as Guadalajara mayor and that simply governing efficiently and transparently is not enough. The problems within the state’s institutions are deep rooted (i.e. corruption) and endemic, he noted, promising reforms to “break with the old political system through social accords to construct a new constitutional order that allows us to confront the challenges of the present and future with efficiency.”
Of the other five candidates, only Miguel Angel Martínez of the conservative Partido Accion Nacional (PAN) and Carlos Lomelí of the Movimiento de Regeneración Nacional (Morena) stand any chance of obtaining a significant percentage of votes, although neither is expected to win.
Martínez, a former state education secretary, started his campaign at the polemic “Sincretismo” sculp0ture on Guadalajara’s Calzada Federalismo with a crowd of around 100 supporters. The pro-Catholic party has joined forces with devout citizens to denounce a monument they say is blasphemous and disrespectful to the Virgin of Guadalupe.
On Sunday, Martínez symbolically “closed” the work, condemning Alfaro for commissioning the piece as part of his municipal public art program, as well as refusing to listen to the petitions of those who want to see it taken down.
While three PAN governors occupied the statehouse between 1995 and 2013, ending the PRI’s seven-decade hegemony in Jalisco, the party has fallen on hard times and is bedeviled by bitter in-fighting. Despite the “Sincretismo” controversy, many former PAN voters are likely to back Alfaro in this election.
For many close observers of the Jalisco election, the fly in the ointment could be Morena’s Lomelí, who hopes to make an impression by clinging to the coattails of presidential frontrunner Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who is making a third bid for Mexico’s top job.
A doctor and the wealthy owner of a pharmaceutical firm, Lomeli is an unlikely representative for a left-wing political party. Accusations that he has laundered money for drug cartels have dogged his every move since he became a federal deputy for the Partido de la Revolution Democratic (PRD) in 2012. However, he says his incursions into the Guadalajara real estate market (he owns almost 40 properties in the metro area), which have raised many eyebrows, are all completely legal.
Lomeli began his campaign on the shores of Lake Chapala in the small town of Mezcala, where he has become something of a hero as he builds a clinic to provide free medical attention to the scores of children in the region suffering from kidney failure.
On day one of his campaign Lomeli vowed to “clean up” Lake Chapala and the Lerma-Santiago Basin. He also guaranteed pensions for everyone aged 65 and over, provide dignified salaries, jail for corrupt officials, the cleansing of the police forces, and free higher education for all. In a final salvo, he promised to turn the governor’s official residence, Casa Jalisco, into a center to attend to abused women.
The other candidates running for governor are Salvador Cosío (son of former Jalisco Governor Guillermo Cosio Vidaurri, 1989-1992) of the Partido Verde; Carlos Orozco of the Partido de la Revolución Democrática (PRD); and Martha Rosa Araiza Soltero of the Nueva Alianza.