MEXIDATA . INFO Column 042606 Luken Wednesday, April 26, 2006
"The Debate" Could Lead To Mexican Presidency
By Carlos Luken
Given Mexico’s politically charged atmosphere, it is astonishing that one event could gain such a major amount of national attention – and that most people would choose to call it simply “The Debate.” After the fact however, others are referring to it as “the turning point.”
The Debate, during prime time on April 25 and between disputants for the presidency of Mexico, was the culmination of a campaign stage during which all participating parties have exercised little decorum and civility. Yet representatives of all contenders met with officials of the Federal Electoral Institute, in order to talk and define guidelines and rules that led to a summit of presidential candidates, and to a public discussion of their ideals and proposals.
Considering the proximity of the July 2 election, The Debate’s terms and formalities were quickly agreed upon by four of the five contenders, with the only exception being Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, the Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD) candidate. Apparently the longtime frontrunner felt his lead was too robust to jeopardize on a trivial publicity whim and he declined to participate....... Yet rather than Madrazo, the biggest loss may go to Lopez Obrador. Those involved and watching mostly forgot about AMLO during The Debate, and his absence – accentuated by the vacant podium – certainly hurt his image....
Carlos Luken, a MexiData.info columnist, is a Mexico-based businessman and consultant. He can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. more
In a related article:
No-show in Mexico: political gaffe?Leftist presidential candidate Lopez Obrador skipped Tuesday night's debate.
By Danna Harman Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor Apr. 26, 2006 -- MEXICO CITY – There was ruling National Action Party (PAN) candidate Felipe Calderón Hinojosa looking dapper, smiling at the camera and holding up a picture of a luxury Miami apartment. He claims his rival, former governor of Tabasco, Roberto Madrazo Pintado, didn't pay taxes on. There was Mr. Madrazo, knocking former energy minister Mr. Calderón, waving newspaper reports of recent crime and corruption under his party's watch, and promising a fresh start with his Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), which ruled Mexico for most of the last century. There were Roberto Campa and Patricia Mercado, two minor candidates using their 15 minutes of fame to attack both Madrazo and Calderón, and push proposals on everything from the environment to exercise classes in high schools.
And there, in the corner was an empty lectern, standing in for leftist leader Andrés Manuel López Obrador, long seen as the man to beat in Mexico's July elections. The Democratic Revolution Party (PRD) leader decided to skip the first of two presidential debates this Tuesday night.
"The battle for the silver medal," was how Mr. López Obrador's campaign manager Jésus Ortega described the debate, which is only the third time such an exercise has been held in Mexico. For decades election fraud and government intervention practically guaranteed victory for the outgoing president's hand-picked successor.
But, say observers, López Obrador may have miscalculated. The decision to stay away, possibly to portray himself as an underdog, under attack by all the rest, seems to have backfired.... more