Teaching Comparative Government and Politics

Monday, September 12, 2016

Governing while unpopular

How does an elected official govern or maintain legitimacy when she or he is dramatically unpopular?

Even before Trump's visit, Peña Nieto was Mexico's least popular president ever.
Peña Nieto
If Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto was taking a gamble when he invited Donald Trump to meet with him this week, it was because he didn’t have much to lose.

More than halfway through his six-year term, Peña Nieto is Mexico’s least popular president since pollsters began such surveys in the 1990s.

In recent months, he has struggled to address rising homicide rates, a slowing economy and corruption scandals involving three of his party’s governors.

He has made enemies with teachers over his recent educational reforms, and with the Catholic Church for supporting nationwide same-sex marriage. He’s even been accused of plagiarizing much of his law school thesis.

And that was all before Trump came to town…

A Reforma survey from last month showed only about 23% of Mexicans held a favorable opinion of the president. He is now regarded more poorly than former President Ernesto Zedillo was at the height of the mid-1990s economic crisis…

Peña Nieto enjoyed a 61% favorability rating when he entered office…

While Mexico has won international praise for modernizing its judicial system in recent years, a series of energy reforms have so far been less successful… [http://compgovpol.blogspot.com/2016/06/keep-on-trying.html]

“The government says the economy is fine, but our families don’t feel that,” said Laura Carmona, 45, a mother of four who works at an auto dealership. “The prices go up all the time — light, gasoline, rent — but our wages do not rise.”

The president’s attempts to overhaul the education system have been similarly fraught, with teachers protesting new requirements for teacher evaluation exams by setting up roadblocks and refusing to enter the classroom in some parts of the country…

Security continues to be a problem…

Peña Nieto has also been dogged by personal corruption scandals… and more recent plagiarism allegations (the president said he didn’t lift anything in his law school thesis but acknowledged “methodological errors”)…

“If Peña Nieto isn’t capable of security, of generating jobs or generating wealth, he isn’t capable of defending Mexicans in the U.S.,” said Jose Cruz, 26, a Mexico City resident who has spent the last six months looking for a job after graduating with an engineering degree…

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