Teaching Comparative Government and Politics

Tuesday, September 08, 2015

Unpopular lame duck

So there's this unpopular president who cannot be reelected… Does it matter?

For Mexico's Peña Nieto, the state of the union is troubled
Three years into an administration characterized by stagnant economic growth, corruption scandals, hair-raising human rights abuses and an agenda of constitutional reforms that have so far failed to deliver, it’s unsurprising that the popularity of Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto is at an all-time low.

Peña Nieto
As Peña Nieto prepared for his annual state of the union address [Wednesday], the latest poll from the Pew Research Center found that just 44% of Mexicans had a positive view of the president, down from 51% in 2014. Only 34% of Mexicans approve of how he’s handling the campaign on organized crime and drug trafficking, compared with 53% last year. And only 34% think the economy is in good shape.

The president, in other words, is in about the same shape as the Mexican peso, which is at an all-time low against the dollar.

Mexicans will be poised to hear Peña Nieto's assessment and plans following what have been arguably the worst 12 months so far for his Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) administration.

Just under a year ago, local police allegedly abducted 43 students in the state of Guerrero. The students haven’t been seen since… State forces – still being used on the front line of Mexico’s assault on drug trafficking – have been implicated in dozens of other cases of extrajudicial killings and disappearances.

Economic growth has been poor and poverty has increased… The first auction in July for oil drilling rights as part of energy reform, which the PRI promised would bring huge growth to the nation, was a flop…

Add to that the recent escape of drug kingpin Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman from a high-security prison via a ventilated tunnel, and it's easy to see why this may be the toughest state of the union speech that Peña Nieto has had to deliver.

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