Puerto Rico’s Citizen’s Victory Movement rises to prominence as a new political party
Third parties are known for receiving little support in the United States compared to the parliamentary system in countries such as the United Kingdom. Despite their disadvantage, there have been instances in United States history when political third parties rise into prominence, usually taking the place of one of the two established parties. These big shifts in the political landscape stem from divisions over large shifts in the people’s ideology on key issues, like the division caused by slavery within the Whig Party which created the Republican Party.
Puerto Rico has been no exception to the two party system, with branches of government constantly traded between the pro-statehood New Progressive Party and pro-territorial status Popular Democratic Party. Despite this constant trade of power, the main issue of colonization has never been resolved, causing many of the people’s trust in the territorial legislature to dwindle.
This shift in ideology can be seen in various unprecedented phenomenons during the 2016 gubernatorial race. First is the historic drop in voter turnout, a mere 55% of registered voters participated in the election compared to 77% in 2012 and 78% in the subsequent 2008 election. Ricardo Roselló only received 655,626 votes in the 2016 election, the lowest amount of votes earned by any elected governor since 1976. In contrast, the media attention towards third party candidates was unprecedented, the most prevalent being Alexandra Lúgaro, a lawyer and entrepreneur born and raised in Puerto Rico. During the race, Lúgaro gained momentum by setting herself apart from established politicians. Her platform strongly advocated for anti corruption initiatives like term limits, publicly funded campaigns and transparency of governmental bodies (Movimiento Victoria Ciudadana). Her stances resulted in support among those who rejected the current political landscape and likened Lúgaro’s domestic platform to that of Bernie Sanders.
Alexandra Lúgaro received an unheard amount of 175,830 votes for a third party candidate, 11.13% of the total votes. This election proved to be a great shift in the mindset among voters, giving birth to the Citizen’s Victory Movement, one of the most prominent third parties since the Puerto Rican Independence Party. The party has built a coalition from both the New Progressive Party and the Popular Democratic Party, focusing on reforming government run institutions. A press correspondent within the party explains, “Citizen’s Victory Movement establishes that partisan politics and the functionality of agencies of government must be completely separate for transparent functionality. Furthermore people working in public institutions must be chosen on their merits rather than party association.”
Currently, Citizen’s Victory Movement has nominated Alexandra Lúgaro for the 2020 gubernatorial race along with many others for lower levels of government. The future success of the newly found Citizen’s Victory Movement is still unclear, what is clear is that voters have lost faith and tolerance for “business as usual” politics. The people are searching for an efficient source of leadership, transparency, and ideological representation rather than playing partisan politics.