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Felipe Calderon retains his popularity

It might seem surprising. Despite more than five years of heavy bloodshed in Mexico, President Felipe Calderon retains relatively high approval ratings.

Some 58 percent of those surveyed offered approval of Calderon while 29 percent neither approved nor disapproved, and 11 percent disapproved.

Also surprising: Mexicans are far less concerned about drug-related violence than they were just a year ago. In May 2011, 48 percent of those polled said security was the most important issue facing the government. The new poll found that had fallen to 33 percent.

The poll was published today in El Universal, and conducted among 1,000 people Feb. 8-13. The margin of error is said to be 3.5 percent. Unfortunately, the story appears to be behind a paywall.

Calderon registered 60 percent approval ratings in August 2008, dipping to a low of 53 percent last August. The numbers, then, have bumped up in the last six months.

Granted, Mexicans tend to put their presidents on pedestals. Calderon’s predecessor, Vicente Fox, left office in 2006 with approval ratings approaching 70 percent even though in hindsight experts call his government the lost sexenio, or six-year presidential term, because of his limited success in dismantling the scaffolding of the one-party state set up over seven decades by the authoritarian Institutional Revolutionary Party. Calderon leaves office at the end of this year.

In the final decades of the 20th century, Mexicans grew accustomed to economic turmoil during political transitions, a phenomenon that became known as the “sexenio curse.” That doesn’t happen these days. Mexico’s economy is expected to grow above 3 percent this year, only a slight dip from 3.9 percent in 2011.


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This blog is written by Tim Johnson, the Mexico bureau chief for McClatchy Newspapers.

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