Oh, the mind-boggling speed with which the Mexican people change governments. Left to right and back again. It’s enough to make one think of pyramids playing leapfrog.
From 1929 to 2000, El Partido Revolucionario Institucional, the Institutional Revolutionary Party or PRI, a liberal/socialist party, were the rulers of Mexico. In 1997, they lost their majority in the federal congress and in 2000 lost the presidency to Vincente Fox of the Partido Acción Nacional (PAN), a conservative party, and lost the majority in the senate. The PRI had a history of corruption and rigged elections and in seventy years had failed to modernize the nation and deal with its culture of lawlessness. The PAN promised a new day for Mexico.
After twelve years, the people of Mexico have decided that the PAN has had enough time to fail miserably, so they have restored the PRI to power, in the person of the charismatic, young, handsome Enrique Peña Nieto. He will be inaugurated on December 1st.
For Americans, the election is important because of Peña Nieto’s plans for dealing with the “war on drugs.” The administration of Felipe Calderón had engaged in a campaign to destroy the criminal cartels in Mexico. The campaign has resulted in the deaths of 50,000 Mexicans and a load of political and law enforcement problems in the American border states. Peña Nieto has said that he will concentrate less on trying to take down the cartels and more on the daily violent crime in his nation. It is a bottom-up policy instead of a top-down way of trying to deal with the rampant violence in Mexico. Peña Nieto sold his party to the electorate as one that learned its lessons and changed its very soul to be worthy of the Mexican people.
It doesn’t hurt that Peña Nieto is married to a gorgeous, popular telenovella star, Angélica Rivera.
Mexico’s presidents serve a single six-year term. Because of the number of candidates, Peña Nieto won with only 38% of the vote. He said in his speech last night that his victory was “a fiesta of democracy. There is no return t the past. You have given our party a second chance and we will deliver results. My gratitude tonight is for the millions of Mexican who voted fr me. I will work for all of Mexico. I will govern for everyone.”
The Mexican people have been very politically patient. They gave the PRI 71 years, then the PAN 12 years. Our allegedly “leftist” (Democratic) presidents only get two years before the electorate saddles them with an opposition Congress that makes their lives hell. Governments don’t change direction easily and policies take time to mature and show results. There’s a lot to say for a nation that gives a political party enough time to succeed or fail.