Puerto Ricans can’t vote in U.S. Presidential elections this November, but they’re getting ready to vote for two positions which are very important in Puerto Rico: Governor of Puerto Rico and Resident Commissioner.
The current governor, Alejandro Garcia Padilla, will not be running again. Here are the current candidates:
- Popular Democratic Party: David Bernier
- New Progressive Party: Ricky Rosselló
- Puerto Rican Independence Party: María de Lourdes Santiago,
- Independent candidates: Alexandra Lúgaro and Manuel Cidre,
A recent poll published in El Nuevo Dia, one of the major newspapers in Puerto Rico, found that Rossello is ahead with 42% of the vote, followed by Bernier with 35%.
Survey participants chose the same parties for the Resident Commissioner, preferring NPP congressional candidate Jenniffer Gonzalez with 49% over PDO candidate Hector Ferrer with 36%.The New Progressive Party is the party which favors statehood for Puerto Rico, and the survey also found that 65% of those surveyed would choose statehood in a yes/no vote.
However, Bernier is reported as saying that his party, which has historically favored “enhanced commonwealth,” will no longer support this idea. “Sticking by the ‘commonwealth’ idea was a key factor in the political downfall of Governor Alejandro Garcia Padilla,” El Nuevo Dia reported, “since many party leaders accept repeated U.S. Government rejections of ‘commonwealth’ proposals.” The article said that many PDP officials now propose nationhood in free association with the United States, the arrangement the U.S. has with the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI), and the Republic of Palau.The survey asked 1,000 voters several questions between August 7th and 10th, 2016.
If given an up or down vote on statehood (Bernier’s stated preference), the voters surveyed said they would vote in this way:
- 65% for statehood28% against statehood
If given a choice between statehood and independence (the option proposed by Rosselló), participants said they would vote this way:
- 57% for statehood
- 9% for independence
- 34% unsure
These results are consistent with the 2012 plebiscite, in which 61% of voters who answered a ballot question regarding their preferred non-territorial status selected statehood as their top choice.
Rosselló has asked the current government (PDP) to hold a vote between statehood and independence in November along with the regular elections.
Rosselló has also said that he would hold a plebiscite, the funds for which were set aside by the U.S. federal government in 2014, as early as possible if he wins the governor’s race. Bernier has also spoken about plans to hold the plebiscite if he is elected.