News You Really Need To See: “‘El Bronco’ Bucks Mexico’s Party System”

“‘El Bronco’ Bucks Mexico’s Party System”

The Washington Post, May 27, 2015, p.A6

The Bronco Bus pulled into the slum on the outskirts of town, and Mexico’s most curious candidate took the stage in front of a flashing neon-green horse head.  Jaime Rodríguez, a.k.a. ‘El Bronco,’ a 57-year-old former mayor and alfalfa farmer, wants to be governor of the border state of Nuevo Leon, a major economic hub and home to the third-largest metropolitan area in Mexico.  His profane, man-of-the-people persona has made him an unlikely front-runner in next month’s midterm elections.  But the main reason his candidacy has captured so much attention is that he has succeeded without the help of Mexico’s powerful political parties, choosing instead to run as an independent. … Just a few years ago, such an insurgent candidacy was not even possible.  A constitutional change in 2012 allowed candidates to run as independents in Mexico, a major shift for a country that has been governed by the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) for most of the past century.  Many people say it is no coincidence that an independent is leading in some polls in a key state at a time when corruption scandals have rocked the national government and many people are searching for alternatives. … Rodríguez is just the most high-profile of many independent candidates running in municipal and state elections across Mexico. Political observers say most have only a slim chance of winning. … Rodríguez has remained vague on many of his proposed policies, telling reporters repeatedly that he would ‘hire the best’ to join his team.  During his recent speech in the poor neighborhood of Alianza, he made many bold promises: to give every child free school uniforms made by prisoners, to let women work an hour less each day and to visit the neighborhood every two weeks of his governorship until he had ‘conquered poverty.’  All the people had to do, he said, was ‘vote for that little horse.'”

Quickie analysis:  Someone was bound to tap into the Mexican people’s anger over the dysfunction of the mainstream political parties.  It remains to be seen if El Bronco is anything more than an opportunist with a hazy agenda.

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