By Nick Miroff | GlobalPost.com
The winner of Sunday’s Mexican presidential election is unlikely to change course on US trade and the drug war.
Something remarkable happened, or rather, didn’t happen, in the middle of Mexico’s June 10 presidential debate when the three leading candidates were asked to share their views on foreign policy.
Not a single one — not even leftist Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador — used the opportunity to question the two pillars of the US-Mexico relationship: free trade and the shared fight against Mexico’s drug cartels.
With the National Action Party (PAN) of current President Felipe Calderon struggling in the polls, many have concluded that Calderon’s embrace of US policy prescriptions —especially his all-out military campaign against the cartels — will likely cost PAN the presidency when Mexicans choose a new leader on Sunday.
But Mexico’s candidates running on promises of “change” appear to be offering a change of personalities, not a change of foreign policy.
If anything, Mexico’s three leading candidates are calling for even closer ties to the United States. While US lawmakers have raised fears in recent weeks that a new Mexican administration could waver in the drug war fight, there’s little likelihood of that happening.
Mexico needs US markets and US security aid just as much as the US needs a stable southern neighbor.
“We need more than NAFTA,” said Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) candidate Enrique Peña Nieto, the race’s front-runner, during the debate, in reference to the North American Free Trade Agreement. “We’re neighbors with the US, but we’re not doing enough.”
The Mexican campaign cycle has been a reminder that Mexico is not Venezuela, or even Miami, where politics tend to be driven by ideology. If anything, Sunday’s elections appear to be more about who can make the Mexican state function, not what sort of functions the state should perform.
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