Teaching Comparative Government and Politics

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

An early favorite

Enrique Pena Nieto is the early favorite to become Mexico's next president. The BBC offers a brief profile.

Mexico's Enrique Pena Nieto confirms election ambitions
There are still 10 months to go before Mexico's presidential election but if the opinion polls are correct, the man to beat is Enrique Pena Nieto.

Mr Pena Nieto, until last week the governor of the State of Mexico, put an end to months of speculation on Monday by announcing on Mexico's main television network, Televisa, that he wanted to be his party's candidate.

If he succeeds, it would mark a return to power after a gap of 12 years for the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), which had governed Mexico for more than 70 years and became a byword for corruption and cronyism…

Speaking to the BBC earlier this month at the governor's mansion in Toluca, the capital of the State of Mexico, Mr Pena Nieto insisted his party had changed.

"The PRI has gone from being a party with a bad reputation... to one that has a creditable reputation today," Mr Pena Nieto said.

He said the PRI had recovered because it had learned to compete against other political actors, unlike the long years of its rule when the next president would be hand-picked by the incumbent - a practice known as the "dedazo" or "pointing of the finger"…

"The PRI has in Pena Nieto a handsome candidate, fresh-faced, who doesn't look like the vintage dinosaur of the PRI's past," says political analyst Denise Dresser.

But in many ways Mr Pena Nieto is just a front, she says.

"Behind him are the old groups, the old factions within the PRI that are poised to govern the country as they always did."…

ncreasing popular frustration and anger over the rising levels of violence have dented the popularity of current President Felipe Calderon and his National Action Party (PAN).

And that could be in the PRI's favour, says Ms Dresser.

"People seem to have a certain nostalgia for the past, to believe that a firm hand is needed to re-establish order in a country best by violence, crime and chaos."…

If - and it is still an if - Mr Pena Nieto is the PRI's choice, he will face a candidate from the PAN, possibly Josefina Vazquez Mota, who is bidding to be Mexico's first woman president, or Ernesto Cordero, until recently the finance minister.

For the left are two possible contenders: Mexico City Mayor Marcelo Ebrard and former presidential contender Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador…

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