Mexican presidential debate overshadowed by a low-cut dress

Mexico’s Federal Electoral Institute blames "production error" for assistant's revealing outfit.

People watch the debate of presidential candidates on giant screens on a street.
People watch the debate of presidential candidates on giant screens on a street, 6 May 2012. Photograph: Getty Images

The first of Mexico’s presidential debates has been catapulted into the international media – but not because of the country’s ongoing drug wars or economic problems.

Instead, attention has been focused on Julia Orayen, a former glamour model who appeared for 18 seconds to hand out cards which determined the order in which candidates would speak. Her low-cut white dress caused some viewers to complain.

Mexico’s Federal Electoral Institute has apologised, saying that the dress distracted from important national issues:

We are sorry about the production error associated with the clothing of one of the assistants during the first presidential debate and want to apologise to the citizens and the candidates for the presidency.

Orayen, who appeared in Mexico's Playboy four years ago, seemed confused by the reaction (“It was my only choice for a long dress. I didn’t think it would reveal as much or cause this much scandal,” she said in a television interview).

At least one candidate was distracted. Gabriel Quadri of the New Alliance party said: “It is impossible not to concentrate your attention on a woman so spectacular.” Josefina Vázquez Mota, campaigning to become Mexico’s first female President, said the dress was “not in keeping with the seriousness of the debate”.

Judge for yourself – here is a clip of Orayen’s appearance.