Monday, April 17, 2006

Leftwinger’s Lead Narrows in Mexican Contest

By: Adam Thomson in Mexico City
April 17, 2006

Analysts in Mexico believe that the upcoming Presidential election will be the closest in Mexican history. The leading candidate, Andrés Manuel López Obrador (leftwing candidate for the Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD)), who used to hold a large lead, now holds a lead of only four points against Felipe Calderón, candidate for the Center-Right National Action Party (PAN). Calderón holds 34% of the vote, which is a 2% increase from only a month ago. Roberto Madrazo, candidate for the Revolutionary Institutional party (PRI), is a distant third with 25% of the vote.

As López Obrador’s lead becomes smaller and smaller, Mexico’s business and community and investors are enthralled because they view Calderón as a much stronger candidate. Calderón promises to open Mexico’s energy sector to private investors, make labor laws more flexible, and crack down on crime. On the other hand, López Obrador promises to cut salaries and perks of top government officials in order to fund more comprehensive social spending.

Some pollsters believe that López Obrador’s quick fall is due in part to very effective negative campaigning by Calderón’s team. Some advertisements link López Obrador to economic chaos and to Hugo Chávez, the radical Venezuelan president. Other analysts believe that this fall is due to López Obrador’s derogatory comments about President Vincente Fox. Mexican citizens place great importance on institutions, and therefore they reject attacks on the presidency.

On a positive note for López Obrador, his opponents have done the worst they can in terms of negative campaigning. As pollster Dan Lund stated, “López Obrador should be bleeding and on the floor but he is not. An independent poll confirms that he continues to be in the lead.”

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