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May 7, 2009
In Mexico, viral campaigning in a time of viruses

Mexico’s Social Democrats Party has a strong online presence.

As the confirmed number of H1N1 flu cases worldwide surpasses 2,000, Mexico is returning to normal as businesses and schools reopen.

But as a Worldfocus contributing blogger writes, the epidemic may have a lasting impact on internal Mexican politics, as the country approaches congressional elections in July.

With the opposition Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) in control of Mexico’s Congress, President Felipe Calderón may try to use his handling of the flu crisis to promote his National Action Party (PAN).

At the height of the H1N1 outbreak, with public gatherings banned, many politicians turned to the Web, using Twitter, Facebook and other social networking tools to spread their message.

Richard Grabman is an American author living in Mexico. He writes at “The Mex Files“ blog to explore how “flu-fallout” will impact the country’s political scene.

Viral campaigning in a time of viruses

The official campaign season for the 2009 elections started last Sunday, and there has been concern that the Calderon Administration is using the “sanitary contingency” to control either control the opposition parties ability to reach the voters, or to surpress voter turnout — which would presumably benefit PAN.

PAN Party Chair German Martinez had floated the suggestion of delaying the election, but found little support for such an obvious ploy.  Most parties agreed to certain “temporary” restrictions — supposedly voluntary — that limit candidate meetings to small gatherings between 10 A.M. and 3 P.M. (which basically means workers wouldn’t be attending) and limiting campaigning to a media campaign.

While election and media laws require the television and radio broadcasters to run campaign material during prime time for all the parties, and even the minor parties are given equal access, it does limit the effectiveness of some campaigning, which has always been more hands-on in Mexico.

BUT… There are no restrictions on Internet advertising.

The Social Democrats (SD), a very small party and always in danger of losing their registration, seems to be “winning” the on-line campaign.  At least it’s SD advertising which pops up most regularly on my screen when I look at a site with random advertising.  The SD ads push a “progressive” social agenda (drug legalization, abortion rights, gay and lesbian equality) and pays less attention to economic policy, perhaps appealing for the geek vote — which may be enough to keep their party registration.

[…] I expect more “flu-fallout” will emerge in the next few days as the campaigns get more heated.  And, I expect that the broad support for the Calderon administration’s proactive approach to the flu will somewhat limit the expected fall in PAN support, but it may not all be to the advantage of PRI… though with a stronger left, the Administration will be forced to make more concessions to the left in legislative iniatives.

To read more, see the original post.

The views expressed by contributing bloggers do not reflect the views of Worldfocus or its partners.

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