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Mexicans will vote amid bloodshed

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Mexicans will vote amid bloodshed

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Mexicans will vote for a new president this Sunday, more anxious than ever to see reform move ahead and drug-war violence end.

They will also choose the members of both houses of parliament, several state governors and the mayor of the capital, Mexico City, and the councillors of nearly 900 towns.

The three candidates for head of state have signed an agreement to respect the results of the ballot.

Enrique Peña Nieto of the opposition Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) is the frontrunner.

Josefina Vazquez Mota is standing for the ruling conservative National Action Party (PAN).

Leftist Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador heads the Party of Democratic Revolution (PRD).

He lost narrowly to the outgoing Felipe Calderon in 2006 and for months led recount protests, which rattled investors.

Vote-buying is one of the forms of corruption distorting the playing field.

On Thursday, the PRD presented what it said were cash value gift cards that the PRI planned to use.

Students also denounce what they say is media lobbying for Peña Nieto, in keeping with the PRI’s reputation for corruption and authoritarianism during its prior 71 years of rule.

The PRI now tipped to return to power was ousted by the PAN in 2000.

Although the PAN raised hopes, annual economic growth averaged barely two percent under its two governments.

It has also failed to contain runaway criminal violence, handicapping the PAN’s chance of a third term.

Felipe Calderon, wrapping up campaigning for PAN candidate Josefina Vazquez Mota, the first woman in Mexico contending for the top job, said:

“Weakness and corruption and the vulnerability of police and prosecutors across much of the country not only didn’t allow Mexico to defend itself; it created favourable conditions for criminals.”

In 2006, Calderon began deploying some 50,000 troops to fight the drug gangs. Six years later, after much criticism from the opposition and human rights groups, the body count has climbed to more than 55,000.

Out of revulsion and fear over the killings, many voters are turning back to the PRI, remembering, in spite of its autocratic past, that for many years it brought Mexico stability, growth and a measure of social justice.