Pandemic, vaccination impact on margin of Mexico’s election debate

By Cristina Sanchez Reyes

Mexico City, Jun 2 (EFE).- The slowness of progress with the anti-Covid vaccination program and the handling of the pandemic by the Mexican federal government are being used by the opposition as an electoral weapon to win support, but everything indicates that this is not a significant issue for the electorate, according to a number of experts.

Martha Singer, an expert on election issues, said that the pandemic as such “is not a central issue today” in Mexico’s political campaigns.

Nevertheless, she added that it has been “an ingredient” in the strategy being pursued by “the weak opposition that is still not finding a coordinating axis for its discourse beyond the complaint that ‘everything is bad.'”

Singer said that one of the main arguments of opposition parties is that the people are not receiving adequate healthcare attention since “the vaccines are not arriving.”

However, she emphasized that this situation is being experienced in many places around the world and “it’s not very clear either for Mexico or for humanity when and how we’re going to get out of this very chaotic and complex situation.”

She said that the world scenario at present “is preventing” the pandemic issue from being a campaign issue because “a solid alternative argument has not been put together that explains to us how it is that we’re having this deteriorating situation for health services.”

In December, when the Institutional Revolutionary (PRI), National Action (PAN) and Democratic Revolution (PRD) parties made their alliance for the June 6 elections official, they – in effect – eliminated the management of the pandemic as an election campaign weapon.

However, Singer said that the pandemic has not been able to be used as a central issue because “the vaccination flow has worked” and the immunization plan pursued by the federal government has been “tacitly” accepted.

Xavier Tello, a surgeon and health communications consultant, said that in “all countries of the world vaccination has a political component today.”

“It had that for (Donald) Trump, for (Vladimir) Putin, it has that now for President (Joe) Biden and today for (Mexican) President (Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador) and his administration, but that’s going to be the case all over the world,” he said.

Nevertheless, he ruled out that the administration of the vaccines could become an election weapon despite the fact that the public “is not enamored” with the slowness with which immunization is progressing in Mexico, although to date health care personnel. elderly adults and teachers have been vaccinated.

He noted that the immunization plan has been delayed by about six weeks vis-a-vis the initial estimates and that many age groups are still uncertain about when they will be vaccinated.

That’s why the rate of vaccinations is not going to influence decision-making about who to vote for in the June 6 elections, he said.

However, the majority of Mexicans “are not happy, because they would have wanted to have more and better access to vaccination,” which perhaps could have influenced their perception of the management of the pandemic by the federal government.

According to the study titled “Mexico’s Response to Covid-19” prepared by the Global Health Sciences Institute, the current immunization plan against Covid is being subjected to “partisan and electoral considerations” that have prevented it from progressing more quickly.

Since the start of the pandemic, the clashes between opposition governors and the federal government have been quite evident.

On the one hand, the governors sought to confront the Health Secretariat’s strategy by imposing more restrictive health measures than the ones levied by the central administration and, with the possibility of the arrival of vaccines, they accused the president of wanting to “monopolize” access to the drugs.

But the federal government has defended the centralized handling of vaccines, first because only its emergency use has been approved and so it still cannot be marketed, and second because of the agreements that have been struck with entities such as Covax to acquire the vaccines.

In addition, there are those who have claimed that the vaccines of being used electorally, a charge that has been rejected by Lopez Obrador, who has repeatedly asserted that there will be enough doses for Mexico’s more than 126 million citizens.

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