Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Mexico Elections

Fox drops bombshell:

PRI to win in 2012 and deservedly so

Former Mexican President Vicente Fox sent a tremor through his party this week, predicting that Enrique Peña Nieto of the opposition Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) would win next year's presidential election.

He also criticized the ruling National Action Party (PAN) for being unable to come up with a credible candidate.

Fox, who swept to power under the conservative PAN banner in 2000 after 70 years of PRI rule, accused his successor President Felipe Calderon of losing his way over the past four and a half years.

In particular, Fox questioned Calderon's use of the armed forces to confront Mexico's powerful drug cartels, a face-off that has left more than 40,000 people dead since 2006. "The Army has nothing to do with this battle and are just complicating things further," he said. "They can't continue to violate human rights and legal processes … it's unacceptable."

Fox also reiterated his view that the legalization of narcotics for personal use would deliver a massive blow to organized crime in Mexico.

In an interview with a Puerto Rican newspaper, Fox praised 42-year-old Peña Nieto – the former governor of the populous State of Mexico – as one of a "new generation" of PRI politicians who have "learned from the past" and embrace democratic principles. In contrast, the PAN has tried to portray Nieto as the modern-day inheritor of a corrupt and authoritarian party that has shown no inclination to modernize.

Fox also slammed his own party for engaging in cynical coalitions with its ideological opposite, the left-of-center Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD), just to be more competitive with the PRI in several recent state elections. He called the PRD a party "without direction."

The former president, who is often ridiculed for his off-the-cuff comments and unorthodox use of language, hit back at critics within his party who say he should be more dignified and detach himself from the political scene, in keeping with most Mexican presidents in recent decades.

"The theme of liberty is fundamental for me," he told El Nuevo Dia. "If I allow them to keep me quiet, then I will lose my freedom."

PAN presidential contender Santiago Creel urged Fox and Calderon to "settle their differences" for the good of the party as it prepares for next year's presidential campaign. He reminded Fox that his election in 2000 would not have been possible without the unanimous support of his party.

Creel, a federal senator, is one of seven PAN hopefuls seeking to become the party's presidential candidate but the only one so far to have taken leave of office to hit the campaign trail full-time. Party leaders want to whittle the field down to three before primaries are held either late this year or early in 2012. That might be bad news for Jalisco Governor Emilio Gonzalez, who currently ranks fifth in the PAN popularity stakes. Polls put former education secretary and current federal legislator Josefina Vasquez Mota ahead of the field.

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