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Mexico Votes On Presidential Election


It's WEEKENDS on ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Laura Sullivan.

Voters in Mexico are headed to the polls today to elect a new president. If public opinion polls are correct, the candidate of the PRI party is poised to win. This is the party that ruled the country with a strong arm for most of the 20th century before being ousted from power 12 years ago.

Voters appear ready to give them another chance and reject the current administration's PAN party, which has not been able to jump-start the economy and has been waging an increasingly violent war against drug traffickers. NPR's Carrie Kahn has been covering the election and joins us now. Carrie, tell us where you are.

CARRIE KAHN, BYLINE: I'm in the state of Mexico, which is right outside Mexico City, in a portion of that, which is called Nezahuacoyotl(ph). We're in a place where there's about four voting stations. So there's a lot of people, a lot of activity here.

SULLIVAN: Well, what are you hearing from people today? What's bringing them out to the polls?

KAHN: The biggest thing that we hear here in the middle of the country is the economy. It's mostly jobs and it's what they call security. So we're not really talking about drug trafficking. That's a lot of what we hear in the United States. But here, they're talking about crime in the streets, assaults, kidnapping, extortion, those are the things that are bothering people here and the economy.

They say that the jobs have not been generated from the current administration, and they want it changed. The current administration that is in power, Felipe Calderon, had campaigned on creating jobs, and they say he got very distracted with the drug war and didn't create the jobs that he promised.

SULLIVAN: Hmm. Polls for the past few months have the PRI party's candidate, Enrique Peña Nieto out in front by a wide margin. And he's been campaigning on a promise that his party has changed, that it is no longer corrupt and it's committed to democracy. Do you think voters believe him?

KAHN: Where we're at right now in the state of Mexico, Peña Nieto was the governor here for six years, and he had really high marks, and he's very popular here. So when you ask people about the parties, they believe in him as the candidate, and they say they believe in the party too.

We were, earlier today, in the capital, in Mexico City, and a lot of people are very strongly tending toward the leftist candidate, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador. And when you get really talking to them, they say they do not believe that the PRI has changed at all and that they're voting against him.

Like I said, it just depends who you talk to. Peña Nieto is very popular in a lot of places in the country, and he has been deemed the inevitable winner for a long time. So people seem to be willing to give the PRI another chance.

SULLIVAN: What are voters saying about Lopez Obrador? He, you know, he barely lost the presidential election six years ago. And at that time, he disputed the results, which caused a lot of chaos in the capital. Is there any sign that that could happen again?

KAHN: I think that's the big question in the election right now. Will he accept the results? As you said, six years ago, he lost by less than a percentage point and a lot of his supporters here in the middle of the country believe that the election was stolen from him, that there was a lot of voter fraud.

In the last few weeks of the campaign, Lopez Obrador had been making suggestions that there was possible fraud happening. He's slightly saying it. He was encouraging his supporters to be vigilant at the poll places. But just last Thursday, he and the other three major candidates signed a pact of civility and that they would respect the vote. So we're just going to have to wait and see what happens.

SULLIVAN: That's NPR's Carrie Kahn in Mexico. Thanks so much, Carrie.

KAHN: You're welcome. Thanks for having me. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Laura Sullivan is an NPR News investigative correspondent whose work has cast a light on some of the country's most significant issues.
Carrie Kahn is NPR's International Correspondent based in Mexico City, Mexico. She covers Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central America. Kahn's reports can be heard on NPR's award-winning news programs including All Things Considered, Morning Edition and Weekend Edition, and on
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