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Welcome to the contest

The 2018 General Election will be the first to include independent candidates running for President
Margarita Zavala (left), Jaime Rodríguez (center), and Armando Ríos Piter (right) – File photo/EL UNIVERSAL
20/02/2018
08:44
Mexico City
Newspaper Leader by EL UNIVERSAL
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Independent candidacies arrived at the political scene in order to introduce citizenry back into the electoral contest. These are legal instruments which allow the participation of candidates who are removed from the comings and goings of political parties, despite the formidable obstacles that remain so ordinary citizens can single-handedly assume the costs of participating in an election.

The 2018 General Election will be the first federal election in which we will have independent candidates to the Presidency. Margarita Zavala, Armando Ríos Piter, and Jaime Rodríguez are the characters who shall enter the contest without the support of a political party – although the final approval of the National Electoral Institute (INE) is still pending. Which contributions will they make to the most complex election in recent years?

In any case, the arrival of the independent candidates is positive news for the electoral contest since citizens will have more option to compare personal and professional careers, profiles, as well as the proposals each contender will make. They are the symbol of the transformation of the Mexican political system towards democratic consolidation.

However, it's only fair to mention that each of the independent candidates who are seeking the Presidency used to be members of political parties. Jaime Rodríguez first became an independent candidate when he ran for Governor of Nuevo León in 2015 following his resignation – a few months before the election – to the center-right Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) after being a member for 30 years.

The case of Margarita Zavala is similar, as she left the conservative National Action Party (PAN) after 33 years or affiliation because she was denied the possibility of contending for the presidential candidacy of the party. For his part, Armando Ríos Piter was with the left Democratic Revolution Party (PRD) for 10 years until, according to his statements, the party stopped being a representative of Mexican citizens.

Have independent candidates forgotten so soon their background in political parties? What's true is that each of them will have to clearly state their reasons for becoming independent candidates beyond the fact that they were denied candidacies at their respective parties. That is, independent candidates will have to prove their aspirations go beyond obtaining power for the sake of power itself.

It's known that the political party discipline demands their members to perform self-criticism and that it is suspicious of new ideas. Thus, independent candidates are expected to bring new proposals to the table as part of their projects, which should go beyond agreements to truly be fleshed-out alternatives so that citizens can have better elements to make a decision. In the end, this will only strengthen democracy.

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