Mexico's Fox Faces First Electoral Test

Midterm federal elections scheduled for Sunday could mean President's conservative party first electoral setback


Seen by analysts as a referendum on President Vicente Fox's term in office, Sunday's federal legislative elections could become a turning point for Mexico's government. According to the last polls, Fox's conservative National Action Party, or PAN, could lose some seats at the Federal Lower House. If this were to happen, this could mean the revival of the Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, that ruled Mexico for 71 years, before Fox.


In a recent statement, Vicente Fox defended his administration and denied his government had committed any major mistakes since taking office three years ago. At that time, and after ending with PRI's one-party rule, Mexico suffered continuing troubles with the economy and internal political conflicts, as wells as controversies over new laws for the indigenous minorities.


"I am very satisfied. Mexico is moving ahead and it's moving ahead well. Fortunately, the changes are coming one after another. We are moving well and we'll continue to do so", Fox said. However, half of Mexican population is still under the poverty line, something that could turn against him on Sunday's elections.


On the other hand, Mexico's economy is in the spotlight, as its main trade partner in NAFTA, the United States, does not show any signs of pulling out of recession. As a matter of fact, country's economy has been also brought into a standstill since 2001 when it contracted 0.3 per cent in 2001 and only grew up 0.9 last year.


As a result, the opposition took the offensive. "There is no growth, there is no development and his campaign promises are totally broken", said PRI leader Roberto Madrazzo Madrazo at a campaign event in the capital. As the main force in the congress, the Institutional Revolutionary Party has blocked Fox's main proposal toward the reactivation of the economy through a tax sweeping and incentives to the foreign investment.


Fox took office with great popularity, but it appears his honeymoon is fading. His government won some credit thanks to Mexico's position at the UN Security Council on Iraq. However, as crime rates increase and economy does not show signs of recovering, the electorate looks for alternatives to his rules.


To Fox's credit, it is important to remark that, according to observers, Mexico is more open and free now than it was three years ago. However, it is something that came, almost naturally, thanks to the substitution of the PRI, in power for 71 years. Perhaps, the enthusiasm of the first months has turned into frustration, as Fox could not resolve the structural problem Mexico faces.


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Author`s name Olga Savka