Government, Political Parties
Partido Independentista Puertorriqueno, Partido Nuevo Progresista, Partido Popular Democratico, Tierra y Libertad, New Progressive Party
The major political divisions in Puerto Rico reflect feelings about ties with the United States. The Popular Democratic Party (Partido Popular Democratico, PPD), which favors commonwealth status for the island, became the leading party after 1940. The PPD was responsible for the creation of Puerto Rico’s commonwealth status and was the island’s dominant party until the late 1960s. The party has traditionally drawn its support from the rural areas. From its beginnings, the PPD advocated land reform in favor of the island’s peasantry. The party’s motto was Pan, Tierra y Libertad (Spanish for “Bread, Land and Liberty”). As the island rapidly urbanized in the last half of the 20th century, much of the PPD’s support eroded as the rural population declined. This shift explains the PPD’s loss of influence in recent years.
In the 1968 elections, the PPD lost to the New Progressive Party (Partido Nuevo Progresista, PNP), which advocates statehood for Puerto Rico. The PNP viewed statehood as a means of gaining a larger share of federal funds and social programs than the island receives as a commonwealth. The new party also sought statehood in order to undermine a small but vocal movement on the island that favored independence. Most of the PNP’s support is found in the urban areas, particularly in San Juan and Ponce. Since 1968 control of Puerto Rico’s government has alternated between the PPD and PNP.
Despite differences over the island’s political status, the two major parties advocate continuation of the same general economic and social programs, and both appeal to a broad cross-section of voters. The small Puerto Rican Independence Party (Partido Independentista Puertorriqueno, PIP) seeks immediate independence. It wants to create a socialist democratic republic, in which the government would play a major role in economic planning, the production of goods, and the distribution of wealth. Several other minor parties also support independence.
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