Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Some Mexican Women Tell Candidates: 'No Wife, No Vote!'

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Some Mexican Women Tell Candidates: 'No Wife, No Vote!'

Article excerpt

Could the Mexican opposition's only real hope lose Mexico's presidential race because he is divorced and his four children are adopted?

With challenger Vicente Fox and ruling party candidate Francisco Labastida in a statistical dead heat leading up to Sunday's vote, the so-called "family" issue is taking on decisive importance - especially among women voters. With party affiliation mattering less for an increasing chunk of the electorate, more Mexicans are deciding their vote on the candidates' backgrounds and personalities, analysts say.

And it seems women don't much like what they see in Mr. Fox.

All six candidates for president describe themselves as agents of change - a no-brainer position to take when 60 percent of voters say the country is on the wrong track. But in a conservative country where "change" also conjures up social upheaval and a breakdown of the traditional Mexican family, women especially identify the divorced, boots-and-jeans Fox with an unstable, nontraditional male who is not their idea of a role model.

With women making up 53 percent of registered voters, that inclination could be decisive. Reliable polls show that while Mr. Labastida tops Fox by a 2-to-3 point sliver, he is comfortably ahead among women.

And the lead is even sharper among housewives, for whom the idea of change is a two-edged sword. Unlike Fox, who is banking on Mexicans ousting the Institutional Revolutionary Party that has governed for 71 years, Labastida speaks carefully of "change with stability." More important for many women, he is giving his wife Mara Teresa Uriarte a high-profile role in the campaign.

At a recent Labastida rally for women in the border city of Ciudad Jurez, the walls of a disco were plastered with the same poster: a shot of Labastida chivalrously holding an umbrella for his wife. …

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