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  Mexican conservative on the rise in election battle
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Last EditedRalphie  Apr 26, 2006 04:14pm
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News DateWednesday, April 26, 2006 10:00:00 PM UTC0:0
DescriptionThe conservative ruling party candidate in Mexico's presidential election is on a roll after a strong performance in the first televised debate of the campaign and a string of mistakes by his main leftist rival.

Without delivering any knockout blows, Felipe Calderon won the debate on Tuesday night by laying out his policy proposals and staying calm.

He was helped by the refusal of leftist candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador to join the debate. An empty chair was set out on the stage to mark Lopez Obrador's absence and it was widely seen as another blow to his campaign.

Lopez Obrador chose not to join the debate so as not to risk his lead, which at one point stood above 10 percentage points. His support has slumped in recent weeks, however, and he is now locked in a tight race with Calderon.

An opinion poll in the respected newspaper Reforma on Wednesday showed 43 percent of people thought Calderon won the debate, compared to just 18 percent who said third-placed candidate Roberto Madrazo came out ahead.
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