Wednesday 21 February 2018

Mexicans return party to power on drugs crackdown pledge

Eric Martin and Nacha Cattan in Mexico City

Mexicans voted yesterday in an election where presidential front-runner Enrique Pena Nieto is looking to return the once-dominant Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) to power after a 12-year hiatus.

The most recent poll taken last week showed him leading Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador of the Democratic Revolution Party. Josefina Vazquez Mota of the ruling National Action Party, or PAN, was in third.

Also at stake are all 500 seats in the chamber of deputies, 128 in the senate, as well as six governorships and the capital.

The once-vilified PRI ruled Mexico without interruption for 71 years, during which it gained a reputation for corruption and authoritarianism.

Mr Pena Nieto has maintained a lead in the race, fuelled by pledges to boost salaries held back by economic growth that averaged 1.8pc a year since President Felipe Calderon took office in 2006.

The 45-year-old former governor of Mexico state has also promised to turn the tide in a drug war blamed for more than 47,000 deaths, and pursue tax, labour and energy overhauls.

"All three of the candidates reflect what most open political races are about, which is how do you improve people's lives," Thomas "Mack" McLarty, former chief of staff for US President Bill Clinton, said.

Many Mexicans will be looking to see if Mr Lopez Obrador (58), who has focused his campaign on boosting spending for the poor, will concede defeat if he loses.

After the last elections in 2006, which the PRD candidate lost by less than a percentage point after leading in most pre-election polls, his supporters occupied streets in the capital for weeks claiming fraud.

Irish Independent

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