Teaching Comparative Government and Politics

Friday, April 20, 2012

Another view of the Mexican election

This analysis comes from a different source, but the message seems the same as the earlier ones.

Mexico presidential race leaves voters dismayed

Elections can be times of great promise and hope for the future. But as Mexican voters prepare to choose a new president in July, those sentiments are hard to come by.

In a country struggling with a vicious drug war and attempts to solidify democracy, many Mexicans are utterly disillusioned with the candidates and dismayed at the choices before them.

At the heart of the matter is a sense that the three main candidates offer no solutions, no real hope for change…

Leading the race by seemingly insurmountable margins is Enrique Peña Nieto, the long-groomed candidate of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI). The PRI governed Mexico for most of the 20th century, dominating Mexican political life through a wily combination of co-option, corruption and intimidation until losing the presidency in 2000. It is now determined to make an emphatic comeback.

Peña Nieto and the PRI are capitalizing on Mexican fears and appealing to nostalgia for a past that these days seems simpler and safer. PRI officials deny critics' charges that this would be a return to negotiating with drug cartels rather than confronting them…

Peña Nieto's closest opponent is Josefina Vazquez Mota of the PAN. As the first female candidate for a major political party, she generated initial buzz and came within striking distance of Peña Nieto in some polls…

Her… difficulty, however, is attempting to distance herself from Calderon's administration, one in which she held several Cabinet posts. "Josefina: Different" is her campaign slogan, but few voters see a real difference between her proposals and the policies enacted by Calderon.

The left, divided and poorly organized, put forward Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, the veteran politician who nearly won the 2006 contest. This time around, he has recast himself as a more conservative contender in a bid for broader appeal. He has toned down his once-confrontational rhetoric, made nice with the gigantic television network that once campaigned against him and attended Mass with the pope.

Lopez Obrador has been rallying a bit from his last-place position in the polls but appears unlikely to expand his support beyond a core following. Many Mexicans frown on his refusal to accept defeat in 2006, which led to disruptive demonstrations that closed Mexico City's principal Paseo de la Reforma and spawned havoc…


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