MEXICO CITY, Mexico – President Felipe Calderón has begun his campaign to maintain control of the Chamber of Deputies ahead of midterm elections in July. With this goal in mind, he accepted the resignation of Education Minister Josefina Vázquez Mota, who will run for President of Congress representing the governing National Action Party (PAN).
In an unprecedented move, reported Proceso, Calderón stated that it was crucial to obtain a majority in the Chamber of Deputies and openly asked Mexicans to support him, saying this would be the most important decision for them in many years. “The government needs Congress' support. I, as president, need the support of legislators like Josefina Vázquez Mota, who is fully and generously committed to the country's interests”, he said.
The ruling PAN currently holds a majority in Congress, but according to recent polls it could lose ground to opposition Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) in the ballot on 5 July.
This midterm election is also seen as an indicator of the President's popularity and Milenio predicted that the centrist PRI could win 40 percent of the votes to obtain a simple majority in the House of Deputies, while surveys estimated that conservatives PAN were likely to get 34 percent of the seats. Finally, the nationwide poll revealed that the Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD) would be left with 19 percent of the votes.
The battle for Congress has embittered relations between the PAN and its main opponent, the PRI, leading to verbal exchanges and accusations between the respective party leaders after a series of party broadcasts have alluded to drug trafficking, corruption and organised crime. The Federal Electoral Institute (IFE) ordered the withdrawal of the publicity spots considering them to be “degrading”, reported Notimex.
IFE also issued a series of penalties against various political parties for allegedly breaching electoral regulations over the contents of radio, television and newspaper messages for the July elections. IFE rules prohibit direct attacks against opposition parties or candidates, as had occurred in the 2006 ballots.
President Calderón is currently concentrating on stemming the effects of the global financial crisis on Mexico's economy which is likely to shrink by 2.8 percent in 2009 as well as fighting the drug cartels which claimed more than 6,300 fatalities in 2008.
The legislative elections in July will renew 500 seats in the lower house as well as elect state governors in Sonora, Nuevo León, San Luis Potosí, Colima, Querétaro and Campeche. There will also be numerous local elections to choose mayors and municipal councillors.