Sunday, July 02, 2006

Mexican Presidential election

(Source Article: Mexicans vote for new president - Reuters)

Update: Calderon likely winner of election

On Sunday, Mexicans had a choice between joining an ever-expanding left-wing Latin American camp or sticking with a pro-capitalism and economic policy regime in close alliance with the US—an election that’s perhaps as important to the US government as that of Mexico; the US has crucial interests in the integrity of border relations, security and trade with Mexico.

The polls showed an extremely close race between the two candidates: one a crusader against poverty, Obrador, and the conservative Calderon from current president Fox’s party. Obrador rejects comparisons of him to US foe and Venezuelan President Chavez, and vows to raise millions of Mexicans from poverty through social welfare programs. His message has found many attentive ears in the poorer regions of the country, where raw sewage spoils the air and operational plumbing fixtures are a luxury. Thus, many of the country’s poor living in these types of towns are heavily in favor of Obrador. (see Leftist raises hopes in Mexico’s forgotten towns - Reuters)

Andres Obrador, a former mayor of the Mexican metropolis of Mexico City, became known for giving cash-handouts to elderly, disabled and single-parent families while in office as mayor. He promises to spread such programs throughout the country if elected. Obrador grew up as one of Mexico’s poor, so that group has connected to him in a way they cannot connect to Calderon. Additionally, the 10 million Mexicans living in the US were allowed to vote from abroad for the first time, but the 41,000 ballots requested by those emigrants isn’t expected to make much of a difference. (see Mexican voters choose between left, right - CNN)

Meanwhile, the Mexican middle and upper classes generally seem to fear what might happen if Obrador becomes president: “I’m afraid of the unknown with...Obrador” said one middle-class citizen. Many fear that his spending would drive the country further into debt. Nevertheless, many Obrador supporters counter that current President Fox and his party—the party of Calderon—have failed to create jobs and alleviate poverty as they’d originally promised.

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