As the Presidential campaign in Mexico come to an end, it is interesting to see who may step up to the challenge of running a country that is on the verge of becoming a major economic power whilst also dealing with the drug war that has come to define modern Mexican politics.
The Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), which has ruled Mexico for most of the 20th century, is currently the leading party in the polls with Enrique Pena Nieto, their Presidential candidate, proving popular amongst the voters in Mexico. However Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador of the Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD) and Josefina Vazquez Mota of the National Action Party (PAN) are both rivals to Nieto’s dominance and will seek to rule Mexico.
But who out of these candidates is best suited to deal with the two main problems for the voter; that of economic growth and the drug war, that has claimed so many lives in the country?
For many the ruling PAN party has failed to achieve the economic growth in Mexico experienced by similar economic powers in Latin America, including Brazil and despite the economic global downturn many believe the government of President Calderon has failed to realise the potential of the country and thus failed to improve the lives of many of Mexico’s poorest. In Mexico wealth inequality is a huge problem and for Mexico to become a more important ecomonic and political power it must address this welath inequality and bring it closer into line with other leading world economies.
Instead of PAN they are looking to the traditional power in Mexican politics, PRI, to achieve financial growth. The PRI have argued that they will increase employment and provide higher wages whilst simultaneously improving social services. Meanwhile the alternative party, PRD, is campaigning on a platform of anti-poverty platform that seeks to improve the lives of the poor.
However a change in political party is not indicative of growth in Mexico. It was under the PRI that, during the 1970’s and 1980’s, Mexico underwent an economic crisis that forced Mexico to default on its debts and for many in the country the legacy of the party’s financial policies is still fresh. Just as many in Britain look back to the Thatcher era in British politics at a reference point for current politics; in Mexico many alive will remember the policies and circumstances that led to the country being denied loans from other nations, making it a financial pariah, and this may will influence their decision when voting in this year’s elections.
But Enrique Pena Nieto is seeking to change the view of the PRI, arguing that his Presidency will herald a new era in PRI politics and this rhetoric has proved to be popular with the population in Mexico and it appears possible that he may emerge victorious in the recent elections.
Whatever the outcome, unusually for a Latin American nations, elections have not revolved around personal allegiances to the left and right wings of politics, but instead around issues that face Mexico today. Any leader chosen will continue to lead a fight against the drug cartels that have had a dramatic impact on Mexican society, leaving an estimated 50,000 people dead and damaging Mexico’s international reputation. They will also all try to continue Mexico’s economic growth, cementing its role as an emerging economic power and a Latin American regional power. Which candidate will achieve these two goals is still relatively unclear and for many commentators although these are the two main concerns for voters, the ultimate decision may be the outcome of a personality contest based on political party history and ingrained social perception.