As the dust settles in Puerto Rico, and Gov. Luis Fortuño faces his defeat, he takes solace in the fact that the statehood option won in the plebiscite held on Tuesday.
The plebiscite asked two questions: whether voters wanted to keep the current status — with almost all votes counted, 53.99 percent said no—and gave them three options as an alternate status, which they had to vote on regardless of their vote on the first question.
The option of statehood won 61.15 percent, with 802,179 votes. The next most popular option was a free sovereign state, with 33.31 percent, or 436,997 votes. However, almost half a million voters left the second question blank, in line with what the Popular Democratic Party (PPD) had asked their followers to do, to protest.
Will statehood happen for Puerto Rico
On Tuesday night, when the PPD was claiming a wide victory, Fortuño’s New Progressive Party (PNP) started releasing results for the plebiscite, which were quite favorable for them. But due to the plebiscite’s controversial nature, it is unlikely anything will happen to get statehood for the island.
Many have criticized the layout of the plebiscite, including U.S. Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ), who said last year, regarding the initial proposals for this plebiscite, that it was created to yield a specific result and therefore had no validity.
The PPD concurs, and for a long time has said this plebiscite was a scam to discredit the current status. Governor-elect Alejandro Garcia Padilla said on Tuesday night that his administration has no plans to act on the plebiscite results. The PPD has stood in favor of the commonwealth—the current status—since the constitution was established under the first elected Puerto Rican governor, Luis Muñoz Marin, who founded the PPD.
Of course, the PNP had a significant win when Resident Commissioner Pedro Pierluisi was re-elected for a second term. Pierluisi vows to take the plebiscite results to Congress and ask for Puerto Rico to become the 51st state.
This is the fifth plebiscite held to define the island’s status since 1952. The first four times, statehood was rejected every single time.