June 29, 2006
Only two more days remain until Mexicans go to the polls to choose their leader for the next six years. The BBC. By law, all campaign activity must cease four days before voting takes place, to give people a calm atmosphere in which to reflect. Felipe Calderon (PAN) and Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (PRD) are running neck and neck, while Roberto Madrazo of the once-dominant PRI is trailing badly.
Mexico's El Universal (English version) compares the likely foreign policies of the leading candidates. AMLO "doesn't speak English, rarely travels outside Mexico and says the best foreign policy is to stay at home and avoid meddling in other nations' affairs." He sounds like Pat Buchanan.
The Washington Post has an ongoing news update blog-like feature, "Campaign Conexión." written by Ceci Connolly. She is amazed by the huge, enthuasiastic crowds in Mexico City's Zocalo (main plaza), as the citizens come to realize what a historic turning point is at hand. Will they get swept up in AMLO's promises of New Deal-style giveaways, or will they heed the call of reason by conservative Felipe Calderon? The latter candidate has offered to form a coalition government if he is elected, which may be a sign of nervousness on his part, as AMLO's rhetorical attacks on him seem to be having an effect on the public.
I remain more than a little surprised that Calderon has held the lead in the polls for most of the campaign. After the largely ineffective term of Vicente Fox, I thought the PAN would be discredited. I see no indication that PAN is expected to pick up a substantial number of seats in Congress, so a win by Calderon would signify an endorsement of the odd "divided government" status quo in Mexico. We in the United States are used to having a president of one party face a Congress controlled by another party, but in Latin American countries with an authoritarian tradition, it is unusual.
Daniel Drezner quotes at length from a Financial Times article on the upsurge of economic natonalism in resource-rich countries of Latin America. The Pentagon's Southern Command is concerned about the possibility that U.S. oil imports will be disrupted for political reasons. Will Mexico and Peru follow Venezuela's and Bolivia's example?