Mexico's ruling party picks female candidate

Conservative National Action Party chooses Josefina Vazquez Mota to run for president on July 1.

    Vazquez Mota is the first female to stand for president from one of the country's three main parties [AFP]

    Mexico's ruling conservative party has chosen Josefina Vazquez Mota, a 51-year-old economist and former minister, as its candidate for presidential elections on July 1.

    Vazquez Mota was elected late on Sunday with 55 per cent of votes from National Action Party (PAN) members, with 86.7 per cent of votes counted, meaning she had a large enough lead to avoid a second round run-off.

    Ernesto Cordero, the Former finance minister, scored 38.1 per cent and Santiago Creel, a former interior minister, took 5.21 per cent.

    Jose Espina, the president of the PAN electoral commission, said: "For the computed percentage, the tendency appears to me to be irreversible."

    "I'm going to be the country's first female president," Vazquez Mota said after the announcement.

    'I am not afraid!'

    Vazquez Mota is the first female to stand for president from one of the country's three main parties.

    The former parliamentarian and ex-minister of both education and social development is seeking to take over from President Felipe Calderon, who can only serve one six-year term under the constitution.

     

    Calderon's failure to stem raging drug violence has hurt support for PAN and many predict a return of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), which ruled Mexico for more than seven decades to 2000.

    Vazquez Mota said on Friday at one of her last campaign rallies that she would not back down from Calderon's fight against drug cartels if elected.

    "I want to tell you, I am not afraid!" she told a cheering crowd of thousands of supporters in the central state of Tlaxcala.

    "Courage has nothing to do with gender."

    Smear claims

    While there is growing disenchantment with the rising death toll from Calderon's war on drugs, with more than 47,000 people killed in the last five years, 83 per cent of Mexicans still support using the army to combat traffickers, according to a 2011 Pew Global Attitudes survey.

    "There will be no truce, no surrender, to organised crime. The law will apply to all politicians involved in crime," Vazquez Mota said.

    The PRI accuses Calderon of using his prosecutors to smear the party with links to drug traffickers.

    Last week, reports surfaced of an investigation of three former governors on money laundering charges, feeding popular anger.

    According to opinion polls, the current favorite to win the presidency is PRI candidate Enrique Pena Nieto, the former governor of central Mexico state.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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