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A poll in daily El Universal showed 27.4 percent of voters would choose the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) if the 2012 presidential elections were held today.

President Felipe Calderon’s National Action Party (PAN) would lag with 23.9 percent of the vote, the poll of 992 people showed, 1 percentage point down on the last poll in September. PRI support grew 2.5 percentage points in the same period.

A separate survey in Excelsior newspaper had similar results, with 51 percent of respondents saying there should be a change of government at the polls in July 2012.

Excelsior said 45 percent of the 400 interviewees thought a PRI return to power in 2012 would mean an improvement instead of a political setback.

Founded in 1929, the PRI was one of the world’s longest-ruling parties until the PAN ousted it in 2000.

ARGENTINA

Argentina recognizes Palestinian state

BUENOS AIRES | Argentina said Monday it recognizes a “free and independent” Palestinian state, days after Brazil took the same step, triggering sharp criticism from U.S. lawmakers and Israel.

Argentine President Cristina Kirchner wrote to Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas saying her country recognizes a Palestine as defined by the 1967 borders, officials said Monday.

Israel already has reacted with “sadness and disappointment” to Brazil’s declaration on the issue, saying it breached a 1995 agreement with the Palestinian Authority that any Palestinian state should only come about through negotiations.

From wire dispatches and staff reports