The model won Mexico’s presidential debate

Mexico´s first Presidential debate on Sunday was not watched by many Mexicans, partly because the two networks with the greatest audience relegated it to less watched channels, partly because the format was unattractive (no direct confrontation among the four candidates) and partly because the campaign in itself has not yet really generated much excitement. Those who did not watch the debate were possibly right, in that it didn’t say very much about the candidates, their platforms or their response to criticism and attacks by their adversaries. The only journalist present was simply a moderator. Those who did watch it, concluded, apparently, and according to initial polls, that the repeated attempts by Josefina Vazquez Mota of the right of center PAN party, and Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador of the left of center PRD party, to cut down front runner Enrique Peña Nieto from the PRI party, did not work. Peña Nieto managed the expectations and battle well by having many people believe that he was incapable of handling himself in a debate, and would be embarrassed or demolished by his rivals´attacks. It did not happen and so, since he didn’t lose, he won; his rivals, by not winning, lost. Given this tedious state of affairs, it was not surprising that the night belonged to the hostess, an Argentine ex playmate, who carried the bowl from which each candidate drew straws to determine the sequence in which they would speak. She was clothed or rather sheathed in a very tight white dress with what she herself later called “unexpected cleavage”. And logically enough, given the boring format, that was what everybody fixed their attention and gaze upon. The Mexican electoral authorities responsible for organizing the debate and for its television production, apologized to the public for the young woman’s´ attire, arguing that they did not supervise that part of the entire production. One can suppose that supervision would have only contributed to making a uninteresting evening even worse. Clearly it was inappropriate for the electoral authority to organize things the way they did, and inappropriate for so many tweeters and users of social media to concentrate on the Argentine´s attributes.But the explanation for both mistakes does not lie in the lack of seriousness in Mexican politics or Mexican machismo. It lies in an electoral law that assigns the organization of debates to the authorities and to the rigid debate itself. If it had been fun and substantial, we would all have had our eyes wander off elsewhere.

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