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Our Rick Santorum?

13 February 2012

If Enrique Peña Nieto is Mexico’s answer to Rick Perry, is Josefina Vasquez Mota our Rick Santorum? The foreign press has largely simply assumed that being female, PAN’s selection of Vasquez Mota as the conservative standard bearer in 2012 is a step towards liberalization. However, as a few astute observers have noted in the English-language press, PAN is still largely the refuge of socially conservative, “traditional values” voters, and its candidates reflect views not necessary in line with those of most Mexicans, nor of women in general.

Luis Hernández Navarro, in The Guardian, U.K.:

Vázquez Mota also enjoyed the support of an important coalition of ultra-rightist forces, among them the notorious El Yunque (the anvil), a secret society who want to “defend the Catholic religion and fight against the forces of Satan, even through violence” and to “establish the kingdom of God on Earth”. Its members have infiltrated the federal government’s ranks since PAN’s Vicente Fox was elected president in 2000.

Throughout her campaign for her party’s nomination, Vázquez Mota managed to gain sympathy from those who would welcome a female president. However, her religious fundamentalism disappointed those who, without being PAN supporters, do not trust the leftist candidate Andrés Manuel López Obrador. On 31 January, the candidate told her party’s members that on election day: “We all should get up early. First to mass, and then to vote. I ask you to go to 8am mass and then to vote.” Many were disenchanted. Soledad Loaeza, author of the most important history of PAN, called it the “holy ghost vote”.

Randal C. Archibold, New York Times:

“She’s running explicitly as someone who affirms rather than challenges conventional gender stereotypes,” said Jocelyn H. Olcott, a Duke University history professor who studies the role of women in Mexican politics. “She’s being put forward as the nurturing, soothing, national caretaker who will put the house back in order.”

Ms. Vázquez Mota, she added, “certainly won’t support reproductive rights, and she’s unlikely to make issues like wage parity, social services and antidiscrimination major objectives for her administration.”

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