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Size matters in macho Mexico’s election

Among the crowing, slurs and insults being flung around in Mexico's election race, campaign ads in this country are even competing over which candidate has the greatest manhood.
Felipe Calderon
A man listens to a speech from behind an image of Felipe Calderon, Mexican presidential candidate for the National Action Party (PAN), during a news conference in Mexico City, on Tuesday, April 11.Gregory Bull / AP
/ Source: Reuters

Among the crowing, slurs and insults being flung around in Mexico's presidential campaign, political ads in this country are even competing over which candidate has the greatest manhood.

From television spots to interviews with presidential hopefuls, you could be forgiven for wondering if the only thing that counts in this election race is size.

"We know why we are with Roberto. It's because he has big ones," says a farmer in a TV spot to promote Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, candidate Roberto Madrazo, running in third place in opinion polls.

A radio ad for ruling party candidate Felipe Calderon, ranked second in polls, says the conservative is the one who could spur job creation because "he's got balls."

And Madrazo himself recently took a dig at leftist front-runner Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador's manliness after the leftist opted not to take part in a live election debate Tuesday. "He didn't have the guts, he didn't have the manhood to be in the debate," Madrazo told a reporter.

The taunt jibes with criticism among many Mexicans of the way first lady Marta Sahagun appears to dominate gentle-natured President Vicente Fox, whose term ends in December.

Despite a surge in women in employment in recent years, Mexico remains firmly macho, and it is common to hear men boasting of their sexual prowess and using terms like "my old woman" to refer to their wives or girlfriends.

"This thing about size comes from a yearning among Mexicans for a strong president or even a strong party," said political analyst Marcela Bobadilla.

The July 2 presidential election is the first since Fox ended the PRI's 71-year rule in 2000, and tensions are running high with almost daily sniping between the three main candidates.