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Mexicans Hit the Polls to Elect New President

LIANE HANSEN, Host:

Lourdes, start with the basics. Who are the candidates, primarily, and what do they stand for?

LOURDES GARCIA: You know, this race presents a very stark choice for Mexicans. Go left for the first time in their history and join Latin America's wave, or move in exactly the opposite direction with Calderon and embrace globalization.

HANESEN: Talk a little bit more about the issues that Mexican voters are interested in. You've mentioned the economy and free trade, elaborate a little bit.

GARCIA: So specifically it all revolves around the economy and jobs. And you know, voters are really interested in choosing two different ways of managing the economy and two different ways of looking into the future. One says, you know, we're going to go with globalization, we're going to try to become more competitive. And another says, actually that's not the way to go. You know, we need to help our poor, we need to be a little more insular, and we need to take a tougher stance with globalization.

HANSEN: This is one of the most expensive elections in Mexican history. What is it that's driving up the spending?

GARCIA: Now, Mexico actually helps train election workers in places like Iraq now. So they've really turned things around, and as they say, that costs a lot of money. But it is a billion dollars that they're spending this election year.

HANSEN: What do you think can be expected from Vicente Fox, the incumbent President? His term doesn't end until December.

GARCIA: But you know, Mexican presidents only serve one term, so there is this saying here that they become a lame duck the day they're elected. And a lot of people have said that about Vicente Fox.

HANSEN: Lourdes, thank you so much.

GARCIA: You're welcome.

HANSEN: Profiles of the major candidates in Mexico's presidential race, as well as the key issues on voters' minds, are at our Web site, npr.org. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.