Flu crisis boosts Mexican Calderon's ratings
MEXICO CITY |
MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexican President Felipe Calderon's handling of the H1N1 flu crisis in April and May boosted his popularity rating to a glowing 69 percent in a poll published in the daily Reforma Monday.
Reforma said the rating, coming a month before Mexicans vote in mid-term congressional elections on July 5, was the highest given in its surveys since Calderon took office in 2006. Calderon has scored ratings around the mid-sixties for the past year.
The poll found 59 percent of respondents felt Calderon handled the swine flu crisis well. While the president stayed behind the scenes in the crisis, his government swiftly shut down public life in the capital, closed schools and imposed a five-day partial economic shutdown to curb the spread of a virus that sickened thousands and killed nearly 100 in Mexico.
The economy, however, remains the main point of concern for voters, who will also elect mayors and six state governors.
In the poll, conducted in late May, 49 percent of people said they disapproved of Calderon's handling of the economy, which shrunk by 8.2 percent in the first quarter as the U.S. recession slammed Mexico's export-oriented manufacturers.
Calderon, a conservative, came to power after winning a narrow victory for the National Action Party, or PAN, against a leftist rival, but has enjoyed robust ratings as he has battled drug cartels and pushed through moderate economic reforms.
The PAN is set to lose its position as the largest party in the lower house of Congress as rising crime and the economic slowdown anger voters.
The government has tried to prop up the economy with a small stimulus package but officials acknowledge that growth cannot resume until the export sector recovers.
Monday's poll surveyed 1,515 people between May 22 and 24 and has a margin of error of 2.5 percent.
(Reporting by Miguel Angel Gutierrez and Robert Campbell; editing by Mohammad Zargham)
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