3 July 2006

Mexico’s Presidential Election Too Close to Call

The Mexican people voted yesterday to elect a new president of their republic, a job with a single, six-year term of office. The three main parties have campaigned long and hard, but the leftist Democratic Revolution Party (PRD, by its Spanish initials) and the right-wing National Action Party (PAN) have left the traditional ruling party (Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI) a distant third. However, the final result won’t be known until Wednesday at least. Democracy can be messy.

Unlike America’s too-close-to-call balloting of 2000, this election was actually about something. The PRD wants to find a way to help the poorest of Mexico’s population. The PAN wants to protect and deepen the North America Free Trade Agreement that it claims will help the poor. The PRD senses that Latin America’s flirtation with Yanquí-style capitalism is over, as evidenced by Presidents Lula and Chavez, while the PAN thinks the Yanquís have it about right.

For the United States, the stakes in the election to its south is vital. A successful Mexican presidency at this juncture would stem the tide of illegal immigration within a decade. People who are doing well at home don’t wander to other lands seeking opportunities. The US corporate sector also needs a friendly government in Mexico to ensure that the out-sourcing that it has done over the years doesn’t turn around to bite it in the backside.

What should truly bother the White House is the closeness of the election and the possibility that Wednesday’s announcement of a winner will not be accepted by the losing side. Hundred of thousands of Mexicans in the street protesting against an election result they reject is not the kind of thing that makes the border states happy. For now, the illegal immigrants are those who want better jobs and a chance that they don’t see for themselves in Mexico. If there is political unrest, refugees who don’t have the same economic value may start arriving.

This is where Vicente Fox enters the picture. Whether his successor is PRD or PAN, he needs to ensure that the count is fair and is seen to be fair. He has started making the right noises, “Citizens, we can have complete confidence that each one of our votes will be properly counted and respected,” he announced. That has become his only job for this week, and good luck to him.

© Copyright 2006 by The Kensington Review, Jeff Myhre, PhD, Editor. No part of this publication may be reproduced without written consent. Produced using Fedora Linux.


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