PDP urges voters to ‘damage’ status referendum ballots
SAN JUAN – Popular Democratic Party (PDP) President Héctor Ferrer will recommend his party to vote in the June 11 political-status plebiscite, but write “no” on the ballot, which would technically invalidate it.
Ferrer said the PDP aims to stir opposition to defeat statehood in the referendum. His proposal, to be presented in the party’s April 23 general assembly, will request its delegates to write “no” instead of selecting one of the proposed status options, “statehood” or “free association/independence.”
Foreseeing that possibility, the Legislative Assembly, with its New Progressive Party (NPP) majority, approved legislation to exclude ballots left blank or considered “damaged” from the final count.
Elections experts said that with its strategy, the PDP is seeking high electoral participation to reveal a significant number of voters against statehood.
Although Ferrer didn’t deny it, the PDP’s ideological definition will be addressed after the referendum, which is typical of the party whose definition of a “developed” commonwealth had been thought of since 1952, when that political relation with the United States was approved.
“I began a dialogue with the party’s different structures, the different organisms, to listen to them, and reach a determination,” Ferrer said as he affirmed there is consensus in the PDP that the entire plebiscitary process is designed to provide statehood a “false” and “deceitful” victory.
“The Popular [Democratic] Party’s purpose must be to defeat [statehood], as I have said before,” the Ferrer said, abstaining from revealing his recommendation to his delegates during the assembly. He said his strategy will be to unite PDP supporters and those who oppose statehood.
However, other sources inside the party said that although voters will be told to write “no” on the ballot, they may vote for free association if they please.
PDP Vice President and San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz vouches for plurality in the PDP’s general thinking as well as alternatives to defeat statehood.
“The PDP, in my opinion, should allow – in accepting the plurality of thinking that we have already accepted without any kind of cover-up – the expression of all those aspects … (From) those of us who believe in free association and want to check that box [independence / free association]; those who make another type of manifestation and are stopping statehood should also be allowed,” Cruz Soto said while indicating that the goal is to achieve a front against statehood.
“The call for PDP voters is to stand in defense of Puerto Rican-hood, and statehood is precisely the denial of the nation we are,” the PDP leader said.
However, other party leaders, such as José Alfredo Hernández, believe that urging voters to pick free association could favor statehood. They argue that voting for that political status tends to generate votes in favor of annexation, regardless of the campaign, because PDP voters tend to value the island’s relation to the United States.
Meanwhile, former PDP Sen. Ángel Rosa urged PDP affiliates to boycott the plebiscite, arguing that the NPP intends to weaken the PDP by increasing ideological “irreconcilability” within the party, which would be made more evident through divisive efforts to tackle the referendum.