So, today is the day that the whole world has been waiting for… Will Barack Obama become the next president of the USA? I am hoping that yes, but I won’t write more about the American elections here because there are plenty of people living in mainland US who have done that. However, it is also election day in Puerto Rico, and it seems that the political campaigning and rallies have been going on almost as long as the American ones, or at least since I moved here in November last year!
We experienced a political rally for the first time in February when we got stuck in a political traffic jam in Lares… and since then it has become increasingly common to see [and get stuck in] political rallies every weekend, hearing political messages shouted from loudspeakers on top of trucks, seeing people flying their party flags from car windows and all those politicians smiling at you from posters on traffic lights / street lights / etc. Politics are important in Puerto Rico and people seem to be sooo involved! I am curious to compare the turnout tomorrow between the American and Puerto Rican elections… Historically Puerto Rico has had one of the hightest voter turnouts in the world, for example in last elections in 2004 over 80% voted in comparison to only 57% in the US.
I am not an expert on Puerto Rican politics and have to admit being a little confused with all the political parties since, as O pointed out, they all seem to have at least two P’s in their name; for Puerto Rico / Popular and Partido (party)! Also, the political parties are not divided in a left-right scale like we are used to in Europe. In recent years there has been lots of political scandals with corruption etc. Nevertheless, a short summary of the local elections is as follows:
Four political parties:
- Partido Popular Democrático de Puerto Rico, (PPD) the party wants Puerto Rico to develop and further the status of commonwealth (in English) / free associated state (in Spanish) of the USA. Aníbal Acevedo Vilá is the PPD representative and current governor. The party symbol is a red silhouette of a jíbaro.
- Partido Nuevo Progresista de Puerto Rico, (PNP) which wants Puerto Rico to become an American state. Luis Fortuño is their candidate for governor and the symbol is a blue palm tree.
- Partido Independentista Puertorriqueño, (PIP) their candidate for governor is Edwin Irizarry Mora and the party wants Puerto Rico to become independent. Symbol is a green flag.
- Partido Puertorriqueños por Puerto Rico, (PPR) is a new party and its candidate for governor is Rogelio Figueroa. The coquí (local frog) is the orange symbol of the party.
Political caravan with people sitting on top of trucks and hanging out car windows. O has been told by his colleagues that every election there are cases of people dying from falling off cars & trucks – I can understand that, it usually looks really dangerous!!
Four elections for:
- Governor – Luis Fortuño of the New Progressive Party seems to be the favourite.
- Resident Commissioner
- Legislative; House of Representatives and Senate
- Municipal elections for mayor
I will have to try to explain the Puerto Rican political system and the different elections in another post (or read about the 2004 elections here) but here are some election campaign photos that I have taken during the months…
Check out this video of the political rally in Lares, February 2008 – as you can see it is all one big party!! And for me the most interesting part is the American flag…
Sorry about the quality of the photos but they have all been taken through the car window, while trying to be discreet…
And one last photo from June’s Democratic primary in Puerto Rico: taken in the supermarket where the section for alcohol was barred since it is not allowed to sell alcohol on election days. It is probably quite a good idea… O’s company expects quite a high level of absence tomorrow since people will be celebrating tonight (regardless of who wins!?)