Hitler, bare breasts, adultery: election time in Mexico

Reuters News
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Posted: Jun 21, 2012 3:33 PM
Hitler, bare breasts, adultery: election time in Mexico
By Gabriel StargardterMEXICO CITY (Reuters) - A Hitler admirer, a former Playboy model, a self-confessed adulterer and the promise of hanky panky. Sounds like the ingredients of the latest Mexican soap opera.In fact, it's a snapshot of the surreal twists and turns of Mexican politics as Latin America's No. 2 economy heads into a July 1 presidential election.Just six weeks ago, few Mexicans aside from the keenest of Playboy readers knew who Julia Orayen was. That all changed after her scene-stealing performance during the first presidential debate.As the former model-turned-production assistant distributed question cards, her plunging neckline posed the candidates one of the toughest challenges they had faced on the campaign trail - where to avert their gazes.After her appearance ignited a Twitter fire storm, the Mexican press declared the winner of the debate was ... Orayen. Red-faced organizers apologized for the "production error associated with the dress of an assistant."Just days later, race front-runner Enrique Pena Nieto, who is expected to return the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) that ran Mexico for much of the 20th century to power, was photographed holed up in a bathroom after students heckled him.The move played into his opponents' hands. In a June 10 Presidential debate, ruling National Action Party (PAN) candidate Josefina Vazquez Mota taunted her rival."We don't want someone who's going to hide in the university toilets to solve the country's problems," she said.Yet things only got tougher for the former state governor, who has admitted fathering two children out of wedlock, when his image was used to promote an adultery website."Unfaithful to his family. Faithful and committed to his country," read the billboard, which featured Pena Nieto performing a hushing gesture with his finger.In late May it was the PAN's turn to face embarrassment when one of its Senate candidates said he admired the leadership shown by Adolf Hitler and Julius Caesar. The party then issued an apology.As this election has shown, sex is often a last resort to resuscitate a flagging campaign.In late May, Natalia Juarez, a candidate running for congress for leftist presidential challenger Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador's Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD) unveiled a billboard in Guadalajara of her and six female supporters topless, their arms strategically placed.A few weeks later, Vazquez Mota took a similar tack when she urged her female Twitter followers to withhold "cuchi cuchi", or hanky panky, for a month if their husbands didn't go to the poll to vote for her.The move appears not to have paid off. A poll on Tuesday in Mexican daily Reforma, placed her third with 24 percent. Little surprise then that later that day, Vazquez Mota backpedaled."Cuchi cuchi refers to cuddles," she said, after women's groups reacted unfavorably. "I meant scratching their backs or kisses."(Reporting by Gabriel Stargardter; Editing by Simon Gardner; Editing by Anthony Boadle)