Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 31 May 2016

Cat a purr-fect candidate for mayor

Published 16/06/2013

Morris is running to be mayor of Xalapa in Mexico (AP)
Morris is running to be mayor of Xalapa in Mexico (AP)
Diego Cruz, left, and Sergio Chamorro pose with would-be mayor Morris the cat (AP)

This mayoral hopeful in Mexico promises to eat, sleep most of the day and donate his leftover litter to fill potholes.

Morris, a black-and-white kitten with orange eyes, is running for mayor of Xalapa in eastern Mexico with the campaign slogan: "Tired of Voting for Rats? Vote for a Cat."

He is attracting tens of thousands of politician-weary, two-legged supporters on social media. "He sleeps almost all day and does nothing, and that fits the profile of a politician," said 35-year-old office worker Sergio Chamorro, who adopted the 10-month-old feline last year.

Put forward as a candidate by Mr Chamorro and a group of friends after they became disillusioned with the empty promises of politicians, Morris' candidacy has resonated across Mexico, where citizens frustrated with human candidates are nominating their pets and farm animals to run in July 7 elections being held in 14 states.

Also running for mayor are Chon the Donkey in the border city of Ciudad Juarez, Tina the Chicken in Tepic, the capital of the Pacific coast state of Nayarit, Maya the Cat in Puebla and Tintan the Dog in Oaxaca City, though their campaigns are not as well organised as that of Morris.

Politicians repeatedly rank at the bottom of polls about citizens' trust in institutions. A survey last year by Mitofsky polling agency ranking Mexicans' trust in 15 institutions put politicians and government officials among the bottom five. Universities and the Catholic Church were the top two.

Morris' cuteness, the clever campaign and promises to donate money collected from the sales of campaign stickers and T-shirts to an animal shelter has attracted cat lovers, but Mr Chamorro said most of his supporters are citizens tired of corrupt politicians and fraudulent elections.

"Morris has been a catalyst to show the discontent that exists in our society," he said. "Our message from the beginning has been 'if none of the candidates represent you, vote for the cat' and it seems people are responding to that."

Morris has a website, a Twitter account and a Facebook page with more than 115,000 'likes,' that makes him more popular in social networks than the five human mayoral contenders. Americo Zuniga, the candidate for the ruling party who is leading in election polls, had 33,000 Facebook 'likes' as of Friday.

His campaign managers are asking supporters to write-in 'Morris' or draw a cat's face on the ballot to send a message to the authorities, who are not taking the cat's growing popularity lightly.

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