Mexico Politics 2012 – Mexico’s “Old Guard” back in power with election of Enrique Pena Nieto

Mexican President Elect Enrique Pena Nieto
Mexican President Elect Enrique Pena Nieto is set to bring the PRI back to power when he succeeds Felipe Calderon Hinojosa in December.
The “old guard” of Mexican politics, the Partido Revolucionario Institucional (PRI) is poised to return to power in December with the election of Enrique Pena Nieto in yesterday’s Presidential election in Mexico.

According to exit polls and a quick unofficial recount, Pena Nieto defeated three other candidates, Josefina Vazquez Mota (PAN), Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (PRD) and Gabriel Quadri (PNA) by a narrow 6% margin. The official ballot count will not begin until Wednesday, July 4th, but that appears to be only a formality. Mexico now has the best president money can buy.

It is a once-unthinkable comeback for the PRI, which many believed was doomed after its 2000 loss when PAN candidate Vicente Fox (PAN) won the presidency and which was still reeling in the last presidential election, when it finished a weak third.

[pullquote_right] “We are a new generation. There is no return to the past. My government will have its vision based in the future.” – Enrique Pena Nieto [/pullquote_right]

While official fraud in Mexican elections is almost impossible, there were numerous reports around the country of ballot boxes being stolen at gunpoint, people being arrested in possession of large number of ballots premarked for the PRI. PAN officials were detained at one polling station with bags of cash and the PRI had cash cards worth millions of pesos to hand out for votes.

Beyond that, what can we expect from the new president who takes office December 1st of this year?

Concerning the so-called “war on drugs” and the violence that has claimed more than 50,000 lives in Mexico over the past 6 years, Peña Nieto is pledging to focus more on reducing violence and less on catching cartel leaders and blocking drugs from reaching the United States. With that position, perhaps the US will be forced to focus more on reducing the insane demand for the drugs that flow north from Mexico and put an end to the “iron river” of weapons and ammunition going south to arm the criminal organizations.

Nieto is also on board with reforming Mexico’s energy industry and advocates opening PEMEX, Mexico’s oil monopoly to private and foreign investment.

Time will tell which direction Nieto takes Mexico into the future. The old authoritarian nature of the PRI will be difficult to maintain in the 21st century, as it was during the 71 years it ruled Mexico. Nieto is young, charismatic but will still have to prove to a majority of the Mexican public he is speaking the truth when he says “We are a new generation. There is no return to the past. My government will have its vision based in the future.”
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