Fierce

Puerto Rico’s Gubernatorial Race Is Neck-And-Neck With Many Ballots Still Uncounted

More than one year after former Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló was ousted after a Telegram scandal, the people of the Caribbean archipelago have voted for a new leader – but ballots in the crowded election are still being counted.

Puerto Rico’s gubernatorial race looks similar to the U.S. presidential election: two leading male candidates neck-and-neck.

Unlike President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden, however, the leading Puerto Rican contenders, Pedro Pierluisi and Carlos Delgado Altieri, are both Democrats. What drastically separates the two candidates are their local political parties: Pierluisi is the nominee of the New Progressive Party (PNP), which advocates for statehood, and Delgado Altieri is the pick of the Popular Democratic Party (PPD), which wants to continue as a commonwealth of the United States with limited self-government.

With 95% of polling stations reporting, the latest numbers put Pierluisi, at 32.4%, ahead of Delgado Altieri, who has 31.4% of the votes.

While ballots are still being counted, Pierluisi, an attorney and lobbyist, declared himself a winner on Tuesday night during a victory party.

Delgado Altieri, the former mayor of the northwestern municipality of Isabela and current president of the PPD, called the declaration “irresponsible” and noted that all the votes need to be tallied. If their difference reaches less than half a percentage point, there would be an automatic recount, Bloomberg reports.

Overall, Puerto Rican candidates faced a dwindling voter base. According to U.S. News & World Report, eligible voters dropped from 2.87 million in 2016 to 2.36 million in 2020, largely due to emigration following multiple economic and climate crises. Even more, with a voter turnout of 51.32%, compared to 55% in 2016, voter participation is also down, likely due to a distrust in Puerto Rican government amid back-to-back political scandals. 

Regardless of which candidate wins, the election is a historic one.

It’s the first time in recent history that either of Puerto Rico’s two main parties failed to secure more than 40% of the overall vote. Puerto Ricans, largely young voters who grew up amid a financial crisis that has since been compounded by the disastrous Hurricane María as well as recent earthquakes, have found themselves disillusioned by both the PNP and PPD parties and have voted in significant numbers for pro-independence and new party candidates. Alexandra Lugaro of the Citizens’ Victory Movement and Juan Dalmau of the Puerto Rico Independence Party have received 15% and 14% of the vote, respectively. It’s the first time since the 1950s that pro-independence parties have reached double-digit support.

Puerto Rico-based journalist and political analyst Jonathan Lebron-Ayala told NPR that rebuilding a decimated Puerto Rico has motivated many young islanders to think outside of the archipelago’s two-party system. “We’re going to see a major change not in this election but maybe into 2024 or 2028 because the numbers in the general demographics with these two old parties are very, very weak,” Lebron-Ayala said. 

In addition to the general election on Tuesday, Puerto Rican voters were also presented with a nonbinding referendum that asked, “Should Puerto Rico be admitted immediately into the union as a state?”

While more than 52% said yes, it must be noted that many Puerto Ricans, understanding that the referendum holds no weight, skip the question altogether. U.S. Congress would have to approve of any changes to Puerto Rico’s political status.

As a U.S. territory, Puerto Rico cannot vote in the presidential election and does not have voting representation in the U.S. Congress.

However, Jenniffer González, Puerto Rico’s resident commissioner, which is a non-voting congressional representative, won a second term on Tuesday night. The pro-Trump, pro-statehood González is a long-time supporter of Pierluisi. 

Pierluisi, who formerly held the resident commissioner seat, briefly served as governor following Rosselló’s resignation last year. Rosselló, who is a member of the same party as Pierluisi, named the 2020 contender as the next governor without him being confirmed by both the House and the Senate as secretary of state. Pierluisi took office on August 2, 2019, but was removed days later on August 7 after the Puerto Rico Supreme Court ruled that Pierluisi was sworn in on unconstitutional grounds. 

The unelected Wanda Vázquez Garced, a former secretary of justice who is also a member of the same PPD party, has served as governor since. In August, Vázquez lost the pro-statehood nomination to Pierluisi. 

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An Alleged Rapist Is Running For Governor In Mexico And Still Has The Support Of President AMLO

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An Alleged Rapist Is Running For Governor In Mexico And Still Has The Support Of President AMLO

Guillermo Gutierrez/NurPhoto via Getty Images

For years, Mexicans have been taking to the streets to denounce violence against women and to demand accountability from their leaders. However, much of that messaging doesn’t seem to have reached the very top as President Andres Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) continues to support a candidate for governor facing multiple allegations of sexual assault.

A candidate for governor faces multiple sexual assault allegations and still enjoys widespread support.

Félix Salgado Macedonio, a federal senator (currently on leave) is accused of sexually assaulting five women and yet is still in the running for governor of Guerrero.

Despite the accusations he faces, 64-year-old Salgado, has maintained the support of President AMLO, who has claimed that the allegations are politically motivated, and other high-ranking party officials including national party president Mario Delgado. He was considered the frontrunner in the election for governor.

AMLO came to the candidates defense, calling on people to stop politicking and avoid “media lynchings” and asserting that people should trust the party process that was used to select Salgado as candidate.

“We have to have confidence in the people, it’s the people who decide. If polls are taken and and the people say ‘I agree with this colleague [being candidate],’ I think that must be respected. Politics is a matter for everyone, not just the elites,” López Obrador said.

The MORENA party has committed to reselecting its candidate for governor but Salgado is still in the running.

Officials from the MORENA party announced that they would conduct a new selection process to find a contender for the June 6 election. The party’s honesty and justice commission said its members had voted unanimously to order a repeat of the selection process.

While the honesty and justice commission has ordered a new candidate selection process, Salgado was not precluded from participating in it. He indicated in a social media post on Friday night that he planned to seek the party’s backing for a second time.

“Cheer up colleagues! There is [still fight in the] bull,” Salgado wrote on Facebook.

Activists continue to fight back against his candidacy and the president’s support for an alleged rapist.

Women have protested in Mexico City and Guerrero state capital Chilpancingo and the hashtag #NingúnVioladorSeráGobernador (No Rapist Will be Governor) has been used countless times on Twitter.

Yolitzin Jaimes, a member of the feminist collective Las Revueltas, said the withdrawal of Salgado’s candidacy is a positive first step but urged the authorities to continue investigating the rape allegations.

“… He has to go to jail, … he mustn’t return to the Senate and he mustn’t be nominated [for governor] by any political party because … it’s very probable that he’s seeking to go to the Labor Party [a Morena ally],” she said.

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El Salvador’s Election Leads To Landslide Win For The President’s New Political Party

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El Salvador’s Election Leads To Landslide Win For The President’s New Political Party

Stanley Estrada / Agence France-Presse / Getty Images

El Salvador has held its midterm elections two years into the term of President Nayib Bukele and the president has been handed a major victory. Although Bukele’s name was not on the ballot, Nuevas Ideas candidates relied on their connection to the conservative president, and his image was plastered on campaign posters around the country.

The strong showing for Nuevas Ideas came despite allegations of voting fraud from Bukele and other party members. While, international commmentators point out that with his new supermajority, there are very few checks on Bukele’s power.

President Bukele’s Nuevas Ideas party wins a supermajority during midterm elections.

In what many are calling a first test for President Bukele’s Nuevas Ideas political party, the midterm elections delivered a landslide victory to the president and his party. With more than half the votes counted, the president’s party won a supermajority of at least 61 out of 84 seats in the country’s Legislative Assembly.

The midterm elections have completely upended the traditional political system that has existed in the country since the 1994 peace agreement. Not once has a single party had such a major victory. These elections also represent the collapse of the two-party system that has governed El Salvador for more than 25 years.

With the added votes of the GANA party, a small party that has pledged loyalty to the president, supporters of Bukele will control over 70% of the legislature, effectively removing all limits on the 39-year-old president’s ability to implement his agenda.

The election results remove any checks the authoritative president once faced.

Bukele will become the country’s most powerful leader in decades following these results, which is causing alarm among administration officials in Washington. Joe Biden’s administration has already voiced “worries” over Bukele’s tactics. These have included disobeying supreme court rulings and sending troops into the national assembly to coerce legislators into approving his spending plans.

Even before official results were in, the 39-year-old president, an ally of former US president Donald Trump, tweeted “VICTORY” over images of fireworks.

Bukele’s harsh crackdown on gang violence and his adept social media campaigns against corruption and traditional politics have made him popular with Salvadorans who are tired of endemic violence in one of the world’s most crime-ridden countries.

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