This article is adapted from AQ’s latest issue on Latin America’s anti-corruption movement.
At just 25, Pedro Kumamoto made history as the first independent candidate elected to the state legislature in Jalisco, Mexico. He further challenged the status quo by leading a succesful vote to strip public officials of their immunity to prosecution while in office. Kumamoto soon began organizing to have more independent candidates elected to office in Jalisco, himself running for a senate seat in 2018. But his subsequent loss, and the defeats of other candidates, underscored the difficulties in winning elections as an independent in Mexico. Now, Kumamoto is founding his own political party and rethinking how to challenge the Mexico’s electoral system. AQ recently caught up with the 29-year-old politician and organizer.
When AQ named you one of Latin America’s Top 5 Politicians under 40 in 2016, you were leading a movement for more independents in Mexican politics. Now, at 29, you’re starting a political party. What changed?
Several factors influenced our decision. Our grassroots movement of independent candidates received about a million votes in the 2018 elections but ended up with no representation in Congress because of rules surrounding independents. The competition in 2018 was also deeply unfair because we received very little state funding. In my Senate campaign, we were outspent nine to one.
But more than anything, we’re starting a party to send the message that our movement isn’t about a single person. It’s about building a democracy that is participatory at its roots. Ultimately, we haven’t been able to write this new narrative with independent candidacies. It wasn’t easy, but we decided to become a political party that will be called Future and will operate only in the state of Jalisco. We are in the process of collecting signatures to make it official.
The party’s slogan is “There is a future.” Do you think there is a future for independent politics in Mexico?
I think there is, but more for individual candidates than for the kind of independent but collective projects like we had been organizing. Mexico’s laws consider independents to be individuals who participate in an election. It doesn’t make room for movements to participate in political life.
How do you describe Future’s ideology?
We are a progressive space within social democracy. Future has an environmentalist agenda that is focused on social justice and the defense of human rights with a gender perspective. We’re interested in local initiatives and in disrupting government from within. Future will be radically honest.
O’Boyle is a senior editor at AQ
Tags: interview, Mexico, Pedro Kumamoto