Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Undecideds Hold Key to Mexican Election

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Undecideds Hold Key to Mexican Election

Article excerpt

ADRIAN MACARIO SAYS he probably will not pick a presidential candidate until election day, and may not vote at all.

This time, his decision and those of millions like him could determine who will govern Mexico for the next six years. For once, the election is no cinch for the ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party, known as the PRI.

"A lot of us don't know who to vote for," said Macario, who sells kitchen utensils of brightly colored plastic at an outdoor market.

He wore a baseball cap promoting a local PRI office-seeker but said none of the candidates for president appealed to him.

Polls indicate at least one-fifth of Mexico's 45.7 million eligible voters have not decided how to vote on Aug. 21. It may be the toughest national election ever for the PRI, which has not lost one since its birth in 1929.

"Because of the large number of undecided or undeclared voters, the vote this time is impossible to call," said Susan Kaufman Purcell, vice president of the Americas Society in New York.

"This time no one really knows who will win the presidency," said Homero Aridjis, a Mexican novelist and environmental activist.

Ernesto Zedillo, the PRI candidate, is a brilliant economist but has never run for elective office. The two other prominent candidates are Diego Fernandez de Cevallos of the conservative National Action Party and Cuauhtemoc Cardenas of the leftist Democratic Revolutionary Party.

Cardenas has not endorsed Mexico's free-market reforms and, for many, seems too radical in a turbulent year that produced an insurgency and the assassination of the original PRI candidate, Luis Donaldo Colosio.

As for Fernandez, a wealthy lawyer, Macario says he represents only the business class that benefited from the economic changes carried out by President Carlos Salinas de Gortari.

Salinas, whose term ends Dec. 1., ended double-digit inflation and sold off inefficient state businesses, but poor Mexicans have remained poor. …

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