Voices of Mexico no. 51

Our Voice

This year both the United States and Mexico will hold presidential elections only four months apart. Undoubtedly, they will be particularly important for the positioning of both countries with regard to our bilateral relations in the twenty-first century. In contrast to previous races, this year’s Mexican elections are especially interesting for U.S. political analysts and actors alike because perhaps for the first time the results are not a foregone conclusion. There is no telling who the winner will be; even the most recent opinion polls contradict each other. While uncertainty is one of the characteristics of living in a democracy, it is also relatively new to Mexican political culture. This is the reason for the great expectation and interest in following the campaigns on the part of the public in both Mexico and the United States.

In the United States, the campaigns are now taking shape and centering on the candidates’ personalities: Al Gore, the “new Democrat,” and George Bush, the “centrist Republican.” From the Mexican perspective —and even in the opinion of much of the U.S. public— the two show only slight ideological differences and their proposals tend to overlap. In Mexico, the ideological spectrum is much broader and the candidates do represent different political options: Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas is on the left; Francisco Labastida, in the center; and Vicente Fox, on the right. This makes today’s real competition for power much more interesting in terms of the changes that it might bring.



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