Mexico Rocks the Vote
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."
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