June 26, 2006

Hot Button Politics Travel South to Mexico

July 2, 2006 Mexicans will be going to the poll to elected a new President. The race pits candidates from five different parties against each other. Current polls have conservative candidate Felipe Calderon of President Vicente Fox's National Action Party (PAN) and Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador of Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD) in a dead heat. Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) candidate Roberto Madrazo lags behind in third place in the polls. Patricia Mercado of Alternative Social Democrat and Campesina Party (PASC); and Roberto Campa (New Alliance Party) are the other two candidates.

Mexican’s Conservative Catholics are following the lead of American’s Conservative Christians as portraying leftist candidates as anti-family, pro-abortion, and wanted to banning religion.
President Vicente Fox's party has roots in Catholicism, Mexico's dominant religion. While former welfare officer Lopez Obrador says little about his religious beliefs, Calderon is from a devout Catholic family and opposes legalizing abortion, which is banned except in certain cases such as rape.

Some Catholic community groups say the church may be using such hot-button issues to sway voters in favor of Calderon. [..]

But for Monica Benitez, a 43-year-old marketing specialist proudly wearing a rubber bracelet bearing Felipe Calderon's name and the orange, blue and white colors of the ruling National Action Party, the two were inseparable.

Shading herself under an orange parasol, she said Lopez Obrador was a danger to the faith who could trigger political strife and even impose a harsh leftist doctrine banning religion and worship of the Virgin of Guadalupe herself.

"We don't want war, we don't want disturbances ... he wants to take our virgin away," she said. "He's going to do it; Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador is crazy."

A man handed out leaflets saying it was a sin to vote for a candidate who favored abortion -- another apparent plug for Calderon, even though Lopez Obrador has not said he backs legalizing it.
Change a few words around and this article could have been written during 2004 Presidential election of Democrat Kerry vs. Republican Bush. Supporters of Felipe Calderon of National Action Party hits on Conservative American themes on the campaign trial.
Calderon, a devout Roman Catholic, champions foreign investment, family values and globalization. He figures to do well in the north, where National Action has been on the rise since its first major victory in Baja California state in 1989.

"People here work and don't wait for the government to help them," said Gabriela Zamora, a sociology student who lives outside Monterrey, an industrial hub 155 miles from the Texas border. "We see (National Action) as more hardworking and less corrupt than other parties."
Zamora might see (PAN) as less corrupt, but a recent study show dirty politics 'Ingrained' in Mexico.
Millions of poor Mexicans have been threatened with exclusion from health care and social assistance programs if they do not vote for various candidates, the studies show. Others, mostly in rural areas, have been given cash payoffs of $40 to $60 for their votes, a tidy sum in a country where the poorest families subsist on less than $4 a day.

The authors of the studies said the coercion is so pervasive that it could swing the outcome of the July 2 election, particularly if the front-runners, Felipe Calderón of Fox's National Action Party and Andrés Manuel López Obrador of the Democratic Revolutionary Party, finish within two percentage points of each other. [..]

The studies said that all three major parties pressure and pay off voters. Each of the studies found that the Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, is the most coercive, followed by the National Action Party, whose standard-bearers are Fox and Calderón. López Obrador's Democratic Revolutionary Party, which is the smallest and youngest of the three major parties, is the least coercive, the studies showed.
After the 2006 election in Mexico, you might see a red/blue divided like in USA.
Mexico's north is mostly wealthy, religious and conservative. Revolutionary politics and poverty influence the south. In between in Mexico City, many consider themselves socially progressive.

In Mexico, as in much of the world, how you vote often depends on where you live. But the July 2 presidential election could redraw the political map.
Playing the part of Ralph Nader to a to Andrés Manuel López Obrador is Patricia Mercado.
Analysts and pollsters say Mercado's Social-Democratic and Rural Alternative Party will win over those leftists who feel Lopez Obrador is not liberal enough.

At a rally Sunday, she said Democratic Revolution's "platform has not grown, while Alternative represents a progressive platform."

Lopez Obrador's campaign manager, Jesus Ortega, said he is not worried. And even Mercado, who is in fourth place out of five candidates, said she is just trying to get the 2 percent of the vote needed to keep her tiny party registered to compete in future elections.

She has launched a no-frills campaign, traveling by bus to universities across the country, often dressed in a business suit to complement her soccer-mom haircut.
The key to Andrés Manuel López Obrador victory is peeling enough independent voters in the North and turning out his base in the south and winning over Patricia Mercado voters, which all depends on a clean election. It seem Mexico presidential election of 2006 has many aspects of American presidential election of 2000 and 2004. Unlike American, Mexico is not stable enough to have an unclear winner. Lets hope the polls are wrong and Andrés Manuel López Obrador pulls off a clean and clear victory.


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