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Wednesday, February 1, 2023

How big money is behind the boom in celebrity candidates

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Carlos Rosado van der Gracht
Carlos Rosado van der Gracht
Born in Mérida, Carlos Rosado van der Gracht is a Mexican/Canadian blogger, photographer and adventure expedition leader. He holds degrees in multimedia, philosophy and translation from universities in Mexico, Canada and Norway. Sign up for the Yucatán Roundup, a free newsletter, which delivers the week's top headlines every Monday.
Wrestler Blue Demon Jr. has announced that he will be running for Mayor of Gustavo Madero municipality in Mexico City.

Like in much of the world, having celebrities run for office is a fairly common occurrence in Mexico. Especially now, since the advent of electoral reforms.

Actors, comedians, YouTubers, wrestlers and beauty queens can all be found in the official ranks of most political parties. 

Prominent examples include Cuauhtémoc Blanco, famed soccer player turned Governor of Morelos. Carmen Salinas, a telenovela actress, became a federal congresswoman.

Many minor celebrity candidates have little chance of winning, but winning is not always the point. Smaller political parties rely on name recognition to acquire enough votes to enable them to secure their party registry and the public funds which come along with it. 

Total funds destined to political parties in México currently stand at 7.239 billion pesos.

But the trend seems to have gone into overdrive since new electoral reforms have taken effect and removed some obstacles toward the formation of new political parties.

As a consequence, social media platforms in Mexico are full with tweets and Facebook posts from celebrities announcing their candidacies for smaller parties such as Redes Sociales Progresistas and Partido Encuentro Solidario.

A good example is the Movimiento Ciudadano candidacy of a ranchera singer, Francisca Viveros Barradas, better known as “paquita la del barrio.”

“The only thing that political parties care about is getting votes, if they come thanks to celebrities so be it. There are no real ideological requirements or concerns for the welfare of the country,” said political scientist Juan Pablo Galicia Nahuat in an interview with Diario de Yucatán.

Since 1911, 46 political parties have participated in national elections, and most no longer exist. There are also state-level political parties active only in their respective states. 

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