In a series of public referendums held in 25 Jalisco municipalities last Sunday, jaliscienses gave an overwhelming thumbs up to the administrations of mayors belonging to the fledgling Citizens Movement (MC).
Opposition parties had slammed the decision to hold unofficial mid-term polls to ratify the work of the mayors – sponsored by municipal citizens’ participation committees at MC-run city halls – as meaningless, costly and a sneaky “pre-electoral ruse.” Many critics had pleaded with public to boycott the polls.
Despite receiving plenty of publicity in the local media, turnout on the day was low, with hundreds of printed ballots going unused.
As predicted, all 25 MC mayors received glowing appraisals from their constituents.
The margins of victory in some municipalities were staggering. For example, 97.8 percent voted to approve the work of the mayor of Etzatlan and his team – 1,321 in favor, with only 21 registering their displeasure.
Guadalajara Mayor Enrique Alfaro got an 85.9 percent approval rating – 65,855 to 9,533 votes. More than half the 165,000 printed ballots were unused, however.
Over in Zapopan, Mayor Pablo Lemus garnered 89 percent of the vote. Jocotepec Mayor Manuel Haro Pérez was “ratified” with 83 percent of the vote (2,103 to 402 votes), although this was the lowest margin of all the mayors.
Alfaro said the polls were an important step toward greater citizen participation in politics. “It’s an historic day for the city and for democracy in Jalisco,” he said.
PRI Jalisco President Héctor Pizano called the referendums a “sham” and accused the MC of a series of irregularities, including acarreo (busing groups of voters to the poling booths), forcing municipal employees to vote and opening polling places without an incorrect number of scrutinizers.
“The MC mayors want us to believe they have the approval of more than 90 percent of their constituents, when the results represent only five percent in Guadalajara and three percent in Zapopan,” Pizano said.
MC State President Guillermo Medrano dismissed the accusations, and compared the PRI with a “drowning person kicking for his life.” He added that the sight of the PRI accusing another party of acarreo was laughable – for decades this was one of the PRI’s principal tactics on elections days.
MC State legislator Agusto Valencia described the PRI as an “obsolete” party with an “withered” vision as to what citizen participation meant. “We are changing the way of doing politics, where citizens become the center of attention,” he said.
All eyes will now be on Mayor Alfaro’s next move, with most analysts speculating that he will take a leave of absence at the end of the year, to prepare for a second run at the Jalisco governorship in 2018.