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THE WEEK AHEAD

MEXICO CITY : Pivotal Vote at Hand

August 16, 1994

As many as 45.7 million Mexican voters will head to the polls Sunday to elect a new president and National Congress in a key test of Mexican democracy and political reform. Under the watchful eye of about 35,000 independent Mexican poll watchers and, for the first time, several hundred foreign "visitors," Mexicans will choose from among nine political parties, among them the Institutional Revolutionary Party that has ruled the country through consecutive presidencies since 1929.

Independent opinion polls, permitted for the first time this year, showed the ruling party presidential candidate, Ernesto Zedillo, with a comfortable lead over his closest rival, Diego Fernandez de Cevallos of the National Action Party. But the polls also estimated that as many as 25% of the voters were still undecided as of last week. Despite Zedillo's lead, analysts do not rule out the ruling party's first defeat in 65 years.

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