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Elections 2000 Wrap Up


November 16, 2000
Copyright © 2000 CARIBBEAN BUSINESS. All Rights Reserved.

The 2000 general elections were historic–not just because Puerto Ricans elected their first woman governor–but also because the Popular Democratic Party (PDP) registered a virtual landslide in the Legislature and in municipalities.

The PDP, which had been in a slump after losing two consecutive general elections in 1992 and 1996, resurged. PDP President Sila Calderon was elected with 55,695 votes over New Progressive Party (NPP) President Carlos Pesquera, according to the latest data provided by the State Elections Commission (SEC).

That contradicted what pundits and polls alike had predicted: that the election would be "very close" and Pesquera would win. Instead, Calderon prevailed by a comfortable 48.5% of the votes to Pesquera’s 45.7%.

The Puerto Rican Independence Party (PIP) hoped for a record-breaking 6-8% of the votes in this election, given President Ruben Berrios’ identification with the Vieques issue and his campaign seeking to woo dissatisfied NPP and PDP followers as a "third alternative." That did not pan out, but Berrios did won 5.2%, or 103,111 votes, also halting the downward spiral of the PIP in the 1990s.

While NPP officials try to determine what happened to their sure thing, SEC numbers show that only 46.4% of the 1.9 million voters cast straight party line votes under the blue insignia. That compares to 51.3% who did so in 1996 when Gov. Pedro Rossello became the first governor ever to pass the one-million-vote mark.

On the other hand, 49.2% of voters in 2000 cast straight party line votes for the PDP, compared to only 45.6% who did so in 1996. The PIP also increased straight party line votes from 3.1% in 1996 to 4.4% in the past elections.

In this election, Pesquera received 92,017 votes less than Rossello in 1996. Meanwhile, Calderon obtained 94,157 more votes than the 1996 candidate, Hector Luis Acevedo, according to SEC data.

In the resident commissioner race, PDP Rep. Anibal Acevedo Vila unseated eight-year incumbent NPP Resident Commissioner Carlos Romero Barcelo 49.2% to 45.5%. Acevedo Vila obtained 74,257 more votes than Romero Barcelo, while PIP Sen. Manuel Rodriguez Orellana received 4.7%.

At the Legislature, the NPP also went from majority to minority status. In the Senate, where the NPP easily dominated in 1996 with a total 19 at-large and district senators, the tables turned and the PDP ended up with 19 senators to the NPP’s seven and the PIP’s one, according to SEC data.

Although in the House some seats were still going to a recount as of press time, the preliminary count gave 27 seats to the PDP, 23 to the NPP and one to the PIP. That compares to 1996, when the NPP won a supermajority of 37 seats to the PDP’s 16, and the PIP’s one. (The usual number in the House is 51 except when there is a supermajority and the minority party is accorded added seats to balance the equation, as occurred in 1996.)

Municipalities also brought bad news for the NPP. A number of municipalities turned coats this year and abandoned the NPP for the PDP, including Vieques, Culebra, Trujillo Alto, Coamo, Quebradillas, San German, Juncos, Comerio, Guanica, Morovis and Rincon.

According to the preliminary numbers, the PDP dominated 46 of the 78 municipalities, compared to 32 for the NPP. In 1996, the NPP obtained 53 municipalities to the PDP’s 24, SEC numbers show. Still, some municipalities are going to a recount, so those numbers may change in the coming weeks.

This Caribbean Business article appears courtesy of Casiano Communications.
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