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Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Mexican leftist moves ahead in opinion poll

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexican leftist Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador inched two points ahead of his conservative rival in a Reforma newspaper opinion poll on Wednesday.

The survey gave Lopez Obrador 37 percent of support among probable voters, up from 35 percent in a poll by the daily in late May. Conservative ruling party candidate Felipe Calderon fell to 35 percent support in the new poll from 39 percent on May 24.

The two top contenders had been running neck-and-neck for the July 2 vote. But Lopez Obrador has appeared to gain ground since a nationally televised debate last week.

On Tuesday he opened a three-point lead over conservative rival Felipe Calderon in two new polls by the Milenio newspaper and Mitofsky polling group.

Roberto Madrazo, of the Institutional Revolutionary Party, was third in Wednesday's Reforma poll with 23 percent of support, up a percentage point from the newspaper's last poll.

Reforma interviewed 2,100 registered voters over three days following the debate. The survey had a margin of error of 2.3 percentage points.

Although Calderon was widely seen as performing strongly in the debate, campaigning since then has focused on allegations by Lopez Obrador that Calderon's businessman brother-in-law evaded paying taxes and received large government contracts while the conservative was energy minister.

Calderon has repeatedly denied any misconduct, but the scandal is tarnishing his image as the candidate with "clean hands" in a country beset by public corruption.

Vicente Fox's six-year term ends in December and he is forbidden by the constitution from seeking reelection.
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