Mexico Rocks the Vote

FEATURED VIDEO: video journalist Christina Pino-Marina documents Mexico's campaign to motivate young voters.

It's a familiar refrain in the waning days of a political campaign that young people could decide the outcome. (So could the elderly, poor voters and a host of other constituencies, but perhaps that's just Campaign Conexión being cranky.) In the tight three-way fight for Mexico's presidency, the push is on to snag the support of the "voto joven" or "youth vote." That means rock concerts and soccer stars, Internet chat rooms, risque radio spots and three grown men trying--fairly unsuccessfully--to look and act hip.

Felipe Calderón has launched a youth-oriented line of clothing in his name while Andrés Manuel López Obrador has pledged to create 30 new tuition-free universities," reports Newsweek's Monica Campbell.

Several civic groups as well as MTV Latin America and Tu Rock es Votar (Your Rock is to Vote) are among the organizations trying to stimulate interest in the election just 6 years after Vicente Fox's victory.

"Even if the campaign nudges only a small percentage of voters out of their homes on Election Day, it could affect the final outcome. More than 30 million Mexicans currently fall into the 18-to-34 age bracket," according to Newsweek. The big question is always whether these traditionally apathetic youngsters will show up to vote this Sunday.

"Turnout among young Mexicans has fluctuated widely," continues Campbell. "In the historic 2000 presidential election, won by Fox, two of every three young Mexicans cast ballots in hopes of ending the authoritarian PRI's 71-year-long reign. But only 30 percent took part in Mexico's 2003 midterm elections, considerably down from the 42 percent average overall."

Mexico has devised one of the most fool-proof election identification cards I've ever seen, but their real value may not be at the voting booth.

"Many young people get their voter credentials because it's the only official identification, and it allows them to get into bars," pollster Ray Campos, president of Consulta Mitofsky, told the Dallas Morning News. "To them, its least useful purpose is for voting."

It's also unclear which of the candidates is most likely to benefit from high participation by 20- and 30-year-olds.

"Polls show that young voters are as divided as the nation at large over the two front-runners, Mr. López Obrador, 53, and former Energy Minister Felipe Calderón, 43.

"Miriam Anabel Lozano Barajas, 25, is not going to sit out this election. "I didn't vote in 2000 because I didn't think my vote counted for anything. Now I'm voting for Calderón. ... As you get older, you begin to realize how bad things are and how much better they could be."

--Ceci Connolly

By |  June 29, 2006; 8:25 AM ET  | Category:  Campaign Conexión
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I was wondering why you chose such an unflattering, unsmiling picture of Felipe Calderon while the expressions on their faces in the pictures of AMLO and Madrazo are quite appealing. I can assure you that I have never seen such a dour expression on my children's uncle's face. I hope that this is not due to any bias on your part. Surely you can find a more photogenic pose. Thank you, Kaye Reyes

Posted by: kaye reyes | June 29, 2006 12:16 PM

Speaking of Bias, I'd like to know why you continue to reference the Zell Miller of Mexico, Krauze, in your paper's reporting. Also, how did your paper recently report that an Obrador presidency would amount to more undocumented immigrants coming into the US? How difficult would it have been for you to determine that undocumented immigration has increased during Fox's tenure, over that of his predecessor? Finally, who came up with the title to your video offering, Populist vs. Pragmatist? How can you call Felipe Calderon, a man who peppers his speeches with quotes from the Bible and who has publicly stated that he does not believe scientists who claim that the morning-after pill induces abortion, a pragmatist?

Ceci, as I've said before, I'm a huge fan, but the Post's reporting of this election is clearly biased in favor of the RightWing candidate, a candidate who will ensure Mexico retreats on the global stage.

Posted by: Richard | June 29, 2006 12:47 PM

I am a US Citizen that has acquired my Mexican Citizenship and has lived in Mexico for 23 years. When I arrived in 1982, president Lopez Portillo was in office. This is a very different Mexico now, and I would hate to see another "Lopez Portillo" in the presidency. That would bring Mexico back 20 years, at least.

Posted by: Isabel | June 29, 2006 02:24 PM

As a Mexican-American with dual citizenship, I believe that the worst fate that can befall Mexico is to have a conservative president who promises to impose Supply-Side policies on a country with a huge disparity in income distribution. Moreover, this person has shown an open disdain for for both science and the separation of church and state. For those of you who are Bush fans, Calderon is for you. For those of you who appreciate the progressive nature and the economic policies of the Democratic Party, your choice is AMLO.

Posted by: Richard | June 29, 2006 04:13 PM

Unfortunately this has been a campaign that has polarized everyone's stand in this election. Calderón is either an ultraconservative fanatic or AMLO is the devil himself. Apparently there is nothing in between. What we have to keep in mind is that whoever wins the election will have to deal with a congress from the opposition, will have to deal with solid independent institutions such as the supreme court or the central bank, will be watched closely by an organized growing civil society and with new transparency laws.

Posted by: Alejandro David | June 30, 2006 10:54 AM

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