News24

Mexican parties make presidential picks

2012-03-12 11:02

Mexico City - Mexico's conservative ruling National Action Party (PAN) and leftist Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD) made their presidential picks official on Sunday, with the loser of a narrow 2006 vote making another try.

With the July 1 presidential election fast approaching, the PRD's Manuel Lopez Obrador, aged 58, who lost the 2006 race to now President Felipe Calderon by less than 1%, locked in his candidacy arguing that a vote for the PAN now would be "agreeing to allow violence to continue which has grown mainly out of the failure of economic growth".

Lopez Obrador pledged to "purge the government of corruption from top to bottom".

The PAN's Josefina Vazquez Mota, 51 - its first female presidential standard-bearer - also addressed sky-high rates of violence and murder in much of the country as drug cartels battle to control their turf and income.

A former social affairs and also ex-education minister, she told supporters at Blue Stadium here she would work to bring justice and peace to the country "for a Mexico of safety for our children".

Playing up her own humble origins, Vazquez Mota said Mexico should be "inclusive and free of discrimination".

Campaign slips

Leading in the polls however is the PRI's Enrique Pena Nieto, aged 45; he makes his candidacy official on Monday. The Institutional Revolutionary Party ruled Mexico for more than 70 years.

Pena Nieto, a photogenic politician with a soap-opera star wife has enjoyed plenty of media coverage since he announced he would stand last year.

But he also made slips in early campaigning, including struggling to name three books that influenced him and admitting that he did not know the price of a kilo of tortillas.

Pena Nieto has insisted that his party, which governs in the majority of Mexico's states, has no ties to drug lords, calling such accusations "propaganda" from political rivals.

A recent survey by pollsters Mitofsky gave Pena Nieto, a former governor of Mexico state, 40% of the vote trailed by Vazquez Mota with 25% and Lopez Obrador with 17%.

The future of a military crackdown on drug gangs started by Calderon five years ago and involving about 50 000 troops, is a key concern among voters with more than 50 000 people killed since then and violence spreading to new areas.