Teaching Comparative Government and Politics

Wednesday, December 02, 2015

What's working and what's not working in Mexico

The editors at The Economist offer this analysis of government and politics in Mexico.

The silence of Los Pinos: The paradox that is Enrique Peña Nieto
Peña Nieto
IN THE first 18 months after he became Mexico’s president in December 2012 Enrique Peña Nieto enjoyed extraordinary success… But then it all started to go wrong.

First a heavy-handed tax reform alienated private business. The murder of 43 student-teachers in September 2014… shocked the country. The revelation that the president’s wife and his finance minister had both acquired luxury houses with the help of Grupo Higa, a construction company that had won government contracts, pointed to conflicts of interest at the top…

In July the escape from prison of Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán… added humiliation to embarrassment…

Many Mexicans point to two big problems with which they associate Mr Peña’s administration—the continuing lack of security and the prevalence of corruption…

Mexico’s economy may not be stellar, it continues to grow steadily… Many things, from education reform to the car industry, are going well in Mexico.

Even on security, the full picture is more mixed than the headlines. The murder rate fell from 2012 until March this year… Several northern states where mafia violence raged are much calmer. In the central state of Michoacán, the federal government has defanged both a particularly vicious drug gang and local vigilantes…

To his critics, Mr Peña has failed to give priority to security and the rule of law partly because many local politicians in his Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) benefit from the status quo. That applies even more to corruption…

Mr Peña’s most surprising failure is political. Paradoxically, the president who piloted ambitious reforms has proved incapable of reacting to events…

In the narrowest of political terms his judgment may be correct. Despite all the scandals, the PRI and its allies kept their congressional majority in a mid-term election in June. Mr Peña may yet be able to get his chosen successor elected in 2018… because the opposition is fragmented… The problem is that this formula will intensify Mexicans’ disillusionment with their still-young democracy.

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