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Five key takeaways as PRI heads back to presidency in Mexico

Mexico's PRI ran one of the best organized campaigns in Latin America in recent history, argues a guest blogger, but its winner, Enrique Peña Nieto, now has to bring the same effectiveness to the presidency.

By James BosworthGuest blogger / July 2, 2012

Enrique Peña Nieto, top, presidential candidate for the Revolutionary Institutional Party (PRI) waves to supporters after casting his vote during general elections at a polling station in Atlacomulco, Mexico, Sunday, July 1.

Esteban Felix/AP

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• A version of this post ran on the author's blog, bloggingsbyboz. The views expressed are the author's own.

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The quick count, exit polls, and the early vote totals all point to a win by Enrique Peña Nieto in Mexico. It appears the president-elect will have a plurality but not a majority in Congress. The PRI also took several more governor posts including the state of Jalisco. Five points about the new president-elect:

A well-managed campaign. From a political consulting point of view, Peña Nieto's advisors ran one of the best, though far from the cleanest, campaigns I've seen recently in Latin America. They kept the candidate on message, got the media coverage they needed, led from wire to wire in the polls, and turned out the votes they needed on election day.

Lack of a specific mandate.  Peña Nieto won less than 40 percent of the vote. His party, the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) doesn't have a revolutionary platform to implement once they retake office. Peña Nieto's only mandate is to do better than President Felipe Calderon. One of the things that is unclear is whether he will push forward with some bold change on a specific policy or just try to incrementally improve things across all policies from where they are today.

Effectiveness... After 12 years out of the presidency (though certainly still around in local government), the PRI is remembered for at least two things: effectiveness and corruption. I think Peña Nieto won because Mexico's desire for the first outweighed concerns about the second. Now Peña Nieto and the PRI have to deliver. Citizens want better economic results and improved security and they expect the new president to pull it off.

...and Corruption. With the PRI coming back into national office, they are going to be watched like never before for signs of corruption. While the old party may have been able to pay off traditional media, new journalism websites and an online movement that started with #yosoy132 are going to provide oversight that the PRI never saw during their previous decades in office. If Peña Nieto and the PRI try to run things as they were run before, the corruption scandals are going to be ugly and publicized.

The Unscripted Presidency. Peña Nieto's advisors won't be able to script his presidency the way they did his campaign. While the campaign was well run, perhaps one of the most concerning parts of the campaign was how poorly the president-elect handled the unscripted parts of the last few months. Whether it was being asked his three favorite books or the rise of the student protest movements against him, the unplanned parts of the campaign showed that he preferred to evade the problems rather than adapt and confront it. The presidency doesn't always offer that option. One of the real questions about Peña Nieto will be how he handles the unplanned crisis moments of the presidency.

--- James Bosworth is a freelance writer and consultant who runs Bloggings by Boz.

The Christian Science Monitor has assembled a diverse group of Latin America bloggers. Our guest bloggers are not employed or directed by the Monitor and the views expressed are the bloggers' own, as is responsibility for the content of their blogs. To contact us about a blogger, click here.

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