January 23, 2002

Fox's popularity falls below 50 percent

                 MEXICO CITY, Mexico (Reuters) -- Mexican President Vicente Fox's
                 popularity rating fell below 50 percent for the first time since he took office
                 in 2000 dragged down by a recession, according to a January poll published on
                 Wednesday by Reforma newspaper.

                 In December 2000, when he came to power, Fox enjoyed an approval rating of 79
                 percent, according to a Reforma poll, after he ousted the long-ruling Institutional
                 Revolutionary Party (PRI).

                 His popularity rating in monthly Reforma polls came down gradually last year, and
                 was in the high 50s in October and November, but moved back up to 61 percent in
                 December. It was 48 percent this month.

                 The poll published on Wednesday also said his disapproval rating was 46 percent in
                 January, its highest level ever, after a gradual rise from 4 percent in December

                 Mexicans were euphoric when Fox came to power. The economy was booming
                 and people felt optimistic that a new party would bring change to Mexico.

                 But now the economy is in recession, dragged down by the slump in the United
                 States, which buys some 85 percent of Mexico's exports and Fox last year suffered
                 set backs in his tax reform plan.

                 The poll showed 21 percent feel the country is on the right path, down from 77
                 percent when Fox took office.

                 The latest Reforma poll was a telephone survey of 850 people throughout the
                 country. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.

                    Copyright 2002 Reuters.