Jalisco witnessed a major changing of the guard Sunday as voters gave a big thumbs down to the usually dominant Institucional Revolutionary Party (PRI) in state and municipal elections.
The political realignment saw former Guadalajara Mayor Enrique Alfaro of the Movimiento Ciudadano (Citizens Movement or MC) romp home in the gubernatorial race by a 15-point margin ahead of Carlos Lomeli of the “Let’s Make History” coalition.
In an astonishing turnaround from six years ago, the PRI’s Miguel Castro won just 16.6 percent of the vote.
In addition, the PRI lost its two seats in the federal Senate, six in the Chamber of Deputies and eight in the State Congress. In contrast to the 63 municipalities the party controlled before the election, PRI mayors will run a mere 21 city halls out of the state’s 125 municipalities.
The major beneficiary from this upheaval is the MC, a seven-year-old party that has completed a meteoric rise to become the dominant force in Jalisco politics.
The decision by the MC to join a coalition – “Mexico to the Front” – comprising the conservative National Action Party (PAN) and left-of-center Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD) was largely unsuccessful on the national level but paid dividends in Jalisco, although Alfaro and various other candidates for mayoral posts had the confidence to fight their corners without any allies.
Coalition candidates won 18 of the 20 districts for the federal Chamber of Deputies, as well as the Senate race. The MC won 45 municipalities under the coalition banner, and 26 with candidates competing on their own. Eight of the nine municipalities that comprise the greater Guadalajara metropolitan area went to the MC: Guadalajara, Zapopan, Tonala, Tlaquepaque, Tlajomulco, Juanacatlán, Zapotlanejo and El Salto. The PRI managed to maintain hold of Ixtlahuacán de los Membrillos.
The MC will also have an overall majority in the State Congress, where the “Let’s Make History” coalition will be the second force. While the make up of proportional representation seats won’t be announced officially until Sunday, it is believed the PRI will be reduced to just two or three seats in the 40-seat chamber.
State Governor Aristoteles Sandoval described the results as a “knock out blow” for his party but called on the citizenry to respect the will and voice of the people. He met with Alfaro – whom he defeated in 2012 and subsequently shared a fractious relationship – on Wednesday to discuss the transition. The hand over of power takes place on December 6.
The hopes of many young voters took a blow when 28-year-old independent Pedro Kumamoto failed in his bid for the Senate, finishing in third place in a tight race behind the “Let’s Make History” and “Mexico to the Front” coalitions. The candidate fared favorably with voters in Guadalajara – where he is well known – but was unable to make an impact in the provinces. Kumamoto noted that without the coalitions he would have won the race. He nonetheless said he is committed to continuing his “Wikis” project, along with his growing legion of supporters.