Election Update: Mexico

June 20, 2006

It seems leftist candidate Obrador is pulling ahead in the recent rounds of Mexican presidential polls. This not good news for conservatives in Mexico, especially not if this La Times puff piece is accurate with it’s comparison and equation of Obrador to B.J. Clinton.

MEXICO CITY — The candidate has a certain sex appeal. Imagine a mestizo Bill Clinton: cappuccino-colored skin, a full head of white hair and a charismatic stage presence. Sometimes, his arrival at a campaign stop will provoke a scream from a woman who, a second later, realizes she’s too old to be acting that way.

Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador is the candidate of the common man (and, clearly, of the common woman) in this year’s presidential campaign. His critics call him an irresponsible populist who will ruin Mexico’s precarious economic stability, but to millions of others, the 52-year-old standard-bearer for the leftist Democratic Revolution Party is hope incarnate, a warrior and father figure rolled into one.

Three opinion polls this week showed Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, the leftist former mayor of Mexico City, winning back his pole position for the July 2 vote. Another one on Wednesday had opponent Felipe Calderon ahead but with a smaller lead.

Lopez Obrador, often the target of negative television ads, had some revenge last week when he accused conservative Calderon’s businessman brother-in-law, Diego Zavala, of influence peddling and evading taxes.

Analysts say a scandal over Zavala has begun to stick even though allegations that he used his influence to win government contracts and failed to pay millions of dollars in taxes may be hard to prove.

Given president Fox’s inability to make any serious headway with Mexico nor stem the flow of those wishing to leave their country for a better life in the US, I can’t help but wonder if perhaps a shake up in Mexico may not be a bad thing, that is of course assuming Mr. Obrador is not all talk. I’m not going to hold my breath. At least the left can claim “culture of corruption” is working somewhere in the world this election season. On second thought perhaps he really will be the disaster some predict.

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