Mexican opinion poll shows Pena Nieto extending lead

MEXICO CITY Tue Jun 19, 2012 6:12pm EDT

Enrique Pena Nieto, presidential front-runner of the opposition Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), is greeted by supporters as he arrives to a rally in Ciudad Obregon, in the Mexican state of Sonora June 19, 2012. REUTERS/Juan Carlos Morales

Enrique Pena Nieto, presidential front-runner of the opposition Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), is greeted by supporters as he arrives to a rally in Ciudad Obregon, in the Mexican state of Sonora June 19, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Juan Carlos Morales

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexican presidential front-runner Enrique Pena Nieto has widened his lead over leftist rival Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador with less than two weeks to go until a July 1 election, according to a poll by the Reforma newspaper published on Tuesday.

The previous poll from the newspaper on May 31 showed only a four-point gap between the two candidates, raising questions about a closer-than-expected race.

But the latest survey showed support for Pena Nieto, the candidate of the opposition Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), climbing four percentage points to 42 percent while support for Lopez Obrador fell by four points to 30 percent.

The result puts the Reforma daily in line with nearly every other major poll, where Pena Nieto is leading his rivals by double digits. Josefina Vazquez Mota, candidate of the ruling National Action Party (PAN), is lagging in third place with 24 percent backing.

However, Vazquez Mota made a strong showing in the second televised debate on June 10 between the candidates, attacking both Pena Nieto and Lopez Obrador, and support for her rose one percentage point from the poll in May.

A separate poll published on Tuesday showed Pena Nieto holding a wide lead. The survey by Consulta Mitofsky gave Pena Nieto 37.6 percent support versus 24.3 percent for Lopez Obrador and 20.8 percent for Vazquez Mota.

Lopez Obrador, the leftist former mayor of Mexico City, lost the 2006 election to President Felipe Calderon in a tight finish and contested the results, staging months of protests and rattling investors in Latin America's second-largest economy.

The fiery orator said there was widespread fraud in the vote and declared himself the "legitimate president of Mexico."

Some market observers feared a repeat of the last election after seeing the Reforma poll last month.

While Lopez Obrador has said he will respect the election outcome this time around, he rejected Tuesday's Reforma poll as an error and insisted he was leading the race.

"I think what happened here was a mistake, we are still ahead," Lopez Obrador said on the campaign trail.

His campaign team then issued a statement accusing the PRI of offering to pay voters for pictures of ballots in favor of Pena Nieto with cell phones.

"Buying votes is a crime," it quoted him as saying. "We are going to issue a call to avoid election fraud."

STUDENT PROTESTS

Support for Lopez Obrador surged last month after the emergence of a student movement attacking Pena Nieto and the PRI, which ruled Mexico for 71 years before losing an election to the conservative PAN in 2000.

The PRI's long rule was tarnished with accusations of corruption and repression and the students say a vote for Pena Nieto would be a return to the past, rejecting the photogenic 45-year-old's claim that he represents a new face of the PRI.

Tuesday's poll showed 41 percent of those surveyed had a positive opinion of the student movement after large anti-Pena Nieto marches in Mexico City.

Many of the students have rallied around the candidacy of Lopez Obrador, seen as an alternative to the conservative government and the PRI.

Most of that support, though, is concentrated in traditionally more liberal Mexico City and the center of the country where Lopez Obrador is leading Pena Nieto by 3 percentage points, the poll showed.

In the rest of the country Pena Nieto still holds a strong lead and thirty percent of respondents said they had not heard of the student protests.

Even if Lopez Obrador does not win the race, the recent boost for his candidacy raises the possibility that the leftist Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD) will have a strong showing in Congress, denting the PRI's majority.

Pena Nieto is promising to move forward on much needed fiscal and energy reforms that stalled under Calderon, but he will face an uphill battle with a divided Congress.

The Reforma poll showed the PRI, in coalition with the smaller Green Party, winning the most seats in the lower house of Congress and Senate.

The PRD, along with an alliance of leftist parties that have opposed reforms in the past, will be second-strongest power in the legislature, the poll showed.

The Reforma poll surveyed 1,515 voters between June 14 and 17 and had a margin of error of 2.8 percent.

(Additional reporting by Dave Graham and Anahi Rama; editing by Simon Gardner and Todd Eastham)

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Comments (1)
Marlianeva wrote:
I’m very disappointed with all the media in the US. Enrique Pena Nieto (EPN) being the Presidential front runner in Mexico? Unbelievable. No news on the massive protests against EPN every day, no reports on the murder rates and the corruption-affiliation – infiltration between the Narcos and the politicians that reign Mexico. Why the American media and the Obama presidency supports a political party (PRI) that has long been able to commit electoral fraud with relative impunity? A party that has shown to the world for 75 years the worst corrupted criminals in office, running Mexico-USA’s Narco-War. Changing the lives of millions of people in fear of being murdered, immigrating to other countries because of the lack of security, jobs, education; to find themselves without a name, job, education, security, etc. This time the people in Mexico are tired and ready for a Civil war if the “front runner” becomes the president.
People has hopes that one man, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador becomes the Elected President of Mexico, a candidate that is loved by the people, his government plan that could improve tremendously the economy , education and security of Mexico.
So it’s in your hands to continue with the corruption that has invaded your ideas or analyze your articles to bring a well investigated report.

Jun 22, 2012 4:32pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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