200 mln. US-Americans are called to cast their vote in Midterm Elections

(LIP-wb) — Today, two hundred million U.S. American voters are called to elect a new legislative.

The vote could see President George W Bush’s Republican Party lose control of Congress.

Several months of often vicious campaigning is over and Americans are beginning to cast their votes. The campaigns were dominated by the situation in Iraq and perceptions about how the Bush administration has handled the war.

Polls suggest that many Americans are unhappy with the strategy and that could translate to the biggest electoral blow in a decade to the Republican Party.

The race has tightened in the last few days but it still appears likely that the Democrats will take control of the House of Representatives where they need to take 15 seats from the Republicans to gain power.

The Senate race is even tighter with just 6 seats needing the change of hands for the Democratic party to take control.

From a Peruvian standpoint, the elections are particularly important in regard to the still pending ratification of the Trade Promotion Agreement (TPA). Although it was just a month ago when President Alan Garcia visited George W. Bush at the White House, who assured assured working with Congress as soon as possible to get this agreement passed, its approval seems rather unlikely if the Democratic party gains control of Congress.

The overwhelming perception among Latin Americans is that Democrats are more protectionist than Republicans, so for countries such as Colombia and Peru that are eagerly awaiting ratification of their respective trade pacts, the possibility of a Democratic victory is worrisome. If the Democratic win is modest, there is a small chance that the lame-duck Congress will be able to ratify these agreements before January.

If it is a resounding victory, then it’s "hasta la vista, baby”, as Alvaro Vargas Llosa, director of the Center on Global Prosperity at the Independent Institute put it.

Many Democrats are angry the Bush administration did not include stronger labor provisions in the pact, and some textile state Republicans are worried domestic producers could be hurt by the agreement, among other concerns.

Under the pending agreement with Peru, 80 percent of consumer and industrial products and more than two-thirds of U.S. farm exports to that country would become duty-free immediately. After that, Peru would implement a gradual elimination of tariffs on U.S. exports.

U.S. trade with Peru last year totaled $7.4 billion, according to the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative.