Mid-term elections in Mexico

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MARCO WERMAN: Mexico's President, Felipe Calderon isn't suffering similar political woes. Calderon has some of the highest approval ratings in modern Mexican history, but he's unable to transfer them to his political party, the National Action Party, or PAN. It's expected to lose seats in Sunday's midterm elections. The World's Lorne Matalon has the story.

LORNE MATALON: Yes it can be done. Chant members of the Opposition Institutional Revolutionary Party, it's Spanish acronym is PRI. The party's Boyd by public poling, indicating it's about to take away significant numbers of congressional seats from Felipe Calderon's ruling PAN. Polling indicates PRI is running five to six percentage points ahead of PAN. The same polling shows Calderon's personal approval rate at 65 percent, principley for his willingness to confront Mexico's drug cartels, and their grip on the country.

FEDERICO ESTEVEZ: Every day we wake to a new announcement of somebody captured somewhere or other, tied to the Seta's or to the other this or that cartel.

LORNE MATALON: But political scientist, Federico Estevez high personal ratings for Calderon, generated by confronting the drug gangs won't translate into electoral gains. He says pre his regaining support, among Mexicans fed up with the severe recession, massive layoffs, and the human costs of the drug war. Close to 11 thousand people killed since Calderon took office. More than, Estevez says, Mexicans don't think Calderon's round ups of allegedly cartel connected officials have begun to sever the links between criminals and politicians.

FEDERICO ESTEVEZ: The level of comfort in the relationship between politicians and drug lords, organized crime, are just simply too high. I think that's a very common perception in the country.

LORNE MATALON: Calderon acknowledges as much, without name PRI directly, he suggests it wants to return to an era when it alternately ignored or protected the cartels. "Leading," says Calderon, "to today's violence."


LORNE MATALON: Calderon says, "We can't close our eyes to this harsh reality of the cartel threat." And he needs congress to support him. PRI has done so but half-heartedly. It's watered down legislation aimed at clamping down on the cartels, seizing their member's assets or freezing their bank accounts. PRI says it's defending State's rights against the power grab by the Federal Government. Most States are headed by PRI governors. Analysts and public polling's suggest, many Mexicans are nostalgic for a more peaceful Mexico, as it was under 71 years of PRI rule. While ignoring PRI's history of corruption, financial scandals, and human rights abuses, including the killings of protesting students in 1968 and 1971. Political analyst, Victor Hugo Michel.

VICTOR HUGO MICHEL: They don't remember what the PRI was, they don't remember the massacre of 1968 or the massacre of 1971, or the financial collapse in 1982, or '86, or '88, or '94, or '95, so history no longer counts. That is a problem PAN is facing.

LORNE MATALON: Calderon pledged his would be the administration that puts people back to work. It hasn't. Oil production is now at a 20 year low, and tax evasion remains endemic. Depriving the Federal Government of sorely needed revenue. Former foreign minister, Jorge Castaneda says predictions of the ruling party losing, mirror past mid-term results.

JORGE CASTANEDA: It's very typical again, of recent Mexican political history, both with Sedio (PH), with Fox, and with Calderon. They can be personally very popular, as all three were most of their terms, and yet not be able to transfer their popularity to the candidate.

LORENZO MEYER: There is a sense that we don't have a future, that we don't know where the country is heading.

LORNE MATALON: That's Lorenzo Meyer, one of Mexico's greatest political historians. He says that the predicted takes place, a loss for Calderon's PAN, with PRI regaining dominance in congress. Mexico's two leading parties will spend the last three years of the Calderon Administration trying to make the other look weak, positioning themselves for presidential elections in 2012.

LORENZO MEYER: We are in the midst of political crisis. The opposition on the government are neutralizing each other, key policies that we need to implement are not being implemented because there's lack of consensus, and part of the opposition is own willing to consider the present government as a legitimate one.

LORNE MATALON: And Sunday's election is not likely to end the standoff. For The World, I'm Lorne Matalon, in Mexico City.