Mexico Elects a New President

July 4, 2012 by
Categories: Mexico

In 2000, Mexicans threw the Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, out of office. The party had ruled for 71 years and built what some called a “perfect dictatorship” through corruption, repression and vote manipulation. On Sunday, unofficial election results showed the party was ascendant again with its presidential candidate, Enrique Peña Nieto, winning by a smaller margin than expected.

Many voters clearly felt the need for change. Confidence in the conservative National Action Party, or PAN, of President Felipe Calderón has plummeted in the face of an army-led drug war that has killed about 60,000 people in the last five years, lackluster economic growth, poverty and continued pervasive corruption.

But there are serious questions about whether Mr. Peña Nieto can make the changes he has promised, and also about some of his prescriptions. Many Mexicans doubt that he can separate himself from the PRI’s corrupt old guard and take on the near-monopolies in energy, telecommunications, finance, cement, food and television that backed the party’s return to power. He has proposed opening Pemex, the government-owned oil monopoly, to some private investment. Other tax, labor, fiscal and education reforms are also badly needed.

Mr. Peña Nieto has sent mixed messages about the drug-related violence that threatens Mexico and border areas in the United States. He has promised to fight against drug trafficking and named a retired Colombian police chief as an adviser.

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