A group of former military personnel will run on an all-military ticket in elections this Sunday in Naucalpan, a densely-populated México state municipality that is part of the greater metropolitan area of Mexico City.
Twenty-eight retired military members, 16 of whom are women, will represent the Solidary Encounter Party (PES) in municipal, state and federal elections. The PES, formally known as the Social Encounter Party, is an ally of Mexico’s ruling Morena party.
Campaigning under the slogan Fuerza Militar, or Military Force, the candidates are seeking to win control of the Naucalpan government and to represent the municipality in the state and federal legislatures.
According to a report by the Associated Press (AP), the PES candidates are promising to bring order to Naucalpan, a city of 800,000 people that borders the northwest of Mexico City.
The presentation of an all-military ticket to voters could be regarded as a litmus test to gauge support for candidates who once served in the military. A recent national survey found that four in 10 Mexicans wouldn’t mind having a government led by the armed forces, suggesting that a significant number of people would be prepared to vote for current or former military men and women.
According to the Naucalpan military candidates, their decision to run on a joint ticket is not a political endeavor but rather an “apolitical” project that seeks to respond to security and corruption problems in the municipality. Candidates who spoke to AP said they proposed their joint ticket to several parties before reaching a deal with the PES, a socially-conservative minor party which polls indicate has lost support and could face political annihilation this Sunday.
The candidates said that if elected they will bring their military experience to their new jobs in areas such as management, order and hierarchy. They said that if they are successful in Naucalpan, all-military tickets could be formed in other parts of Mexico, a country in which the military already has enormous power thanks to President López Obrador’s delegation of a wide range of tasks to the armed forces.
“We could start as a base in Naucalpan, where we are going to seek peace and social justice to later spread it at a national level,” said Reyes Robles, a retired army general hoping to win a seat in federal Congress.
Robles, who with 45 years experience in the army is the highest-ranking member of the military ticket, rejected the suggestion that politics in Mexico are being militarized, despite the president relying on the armed forces for public security, infrastructure construction and a range of other non-traditional tasks.
Referring to his PES colleagues, the ex-general said that each candidate in Naucalpan is exercising a constitutional right to seek elected office that all citizens enjoy.
“Our country does not militarize,” Robles said. “Simply, our governments, when politics fail, they lean on the armed forces for the organization and the capacity to respond to the problems we’re facing.”
Retired Captain Oscar E. Hernández Mandujano, who is also seeking a seat in Congress, noted that members of the armed forces often retire early and need to find other pursuits in life. He compared exiting the military to graduating from a university, asserting that people who have served in the armed forces are equipped with military values that can be used in the outside world.
The Naucalpan PES candidates, if successful, will not be the first retired military personnel to hold elected office. Retired soldiers and marines have held congressional seats for various parties for over a decade, AP said, adding that the military sees their election in a positive light.
But the military hasn’t endorsed or sought to promote the PES ticket in Naucalpan, according to military expert Juan Ibarrola.
“[Current] military personnel don’t like to get involved in politics,” he said. “It’s not in their interest and they don’t need it” because they already have enough power, he told AP.
Source: AP (en)