Mexico election: Vazquez Mota closing the gap

| Mar. 2, 2012 |

Published by GlobalPost

Mexico's presidential election may not be as close a call as many analysts had predicted. The opposition Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) was expected to win by a landslide after President Felipe Calderon's National Action Party (PAN) is tainted by his much-lambasted war on drugs.

However, reccent polling shows that the PAN's Josefina Vazquez Mota is closing in on the PRI's Enrique Peña Nieto, reports the Associated Press.

Read more: Josefina Vazquez Mota picked for Mexico presidential candidate

After a series of gaffes, Peña Nieto is now only leading a GEA/ISA poll by seven percentage points, narrowing the gap from 20 in January. Another polling firm, Parametria, puts the PRI leader 17 points ahead, compared to 21 in January.

Vazquez Mota tweeted her excitement at the news, while Peña Nieto reminded repoters that he was still in the lead.

Read more: Mexico's drug-war dead: 12,000 in 2011

Given the PAN's record on Mexico's drug war, in which more than 47,000 have been killed since Calderon assumed the presidency in December 2006, the party was expected to lose the July vote. However, Peña Nieto's gaffes have cost him traction against a confident and articulate rival.

When asked by a reporter if he knew the price of a kilo of tortillas, a Mexican stable, he curtly replied, "I am not a housewife."

Vázquez Mota has played on this, touting her role in the family alongside more political credentials. "I am a woman, and as a woman I am a housewife, I am a government official, I've been twice a government secretary, I've been leader of a parliamentary group, I am an economist," she said in reponse, adding that her rival's comments were "pejorative."

Peña Nieto also failed to successfully name three books that had influenced him while on the campaign trail at the Guadalajara International Book Fair. “Well, I've read several, including novels, which I liked a lot,” he said. “I'd struggle to remember the names.” Peña Nieto mentioned the Bible, a novel whose author he couldn’t remember and a Mexican history book with a title that also escaped him.

The 45-year-old was promoting his own book, "Mexico: The Great Hope."

“[He may be the only man] to have written more books than he has read,” quipped lawmaker Mauricio Toledano.