Mexicans at polls talk of jobs, drug violence
Mexico's presidential election today is a choice between four candidates – and not voting at all.
(Page 2 of 3)
When the PRI lost the presidency in 2000, for the first time since its founding in 1929, there was overwhelming excitement and relief. And yet, just 12 years after Mexico's transition to democracy – amid a public wearied by violence and skeptical about how deep Mexico’s democratic transition really was – the PRI seems to be making a comeback.Skip to next paragraph
Europe Bureau Chief
Sara Miller Llana moved to Paris in April 2013 to become the Monitor's Europe Bureau Chief. Previously she was the paper's Latin America Bureau Chief, based in Mexico City, from 2006 to 2013.
Move over, Lenin: Louis Vuitton 'trunk' occupies Red Square (+video)
Good Reads: From the end of books, to driverless cars, to post-traumatic growth
Latvia store collapse: was rooftop garden to blame?
Jakarta putting brakes on stop-and-go traffic
Greenpeace activists granted bail in Russia. Is Sochi a factor? (+video)
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
Now, many are wondering whether a PRI victory in this election would mean that Mexico is retreating from its long march toward democracy. Student protestors have recently taken to the streets and written on social media with fury about the implications of the PRI coming back to power.
The PRI says it is a political party "of today." Its candidate, Enrique Peña Nieto, hails from a younger, more modern generation that cares deeply about democracy, the party says, yet with the PRI's backing he can leverage the party's vast political experience and efficiency to solve the country's deepest economic and security problems.
It's unclear how many Mexicans are buying this message, but polls show Mr. Peña Nieto is out front with a comfortable two-digit advantage, according to most polls, in part because they are voting against the status quo.
Twelve years after its democratic transition, Mexicans are disillusioned with the state of democracy, which many say they believed would have deepened by now. Weak institutions, monopolies that cripple competition and economic growth, and corruption still dominate. Among the top concerns is violence, including the 50,000-plus drug-related deaths in six years.
“There is a kind of longing for the 'good old days,' when there was corruption but not as much violence,” says Lorenzo Meyer, a noted historian in Mexico. “[The PRI was] corrupt but not that inefficient. [Mexicans are saying] 'let us return to good old days of efficient authoritarianism.'"
Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador
Across Latin America, the left – from the fiery nationalism of Venezuela to the more market-friendly left of Brazil – dominates. Even in places where leftists are not in power, they’re still a force to be reckoned with.
But in Mexico this election cycle, the left only became competitive less than a month before presidential elections July 1. After languishing in third place as he struggled to brand himself as a capable leader, Andrés Manuel López Obrador is now in second, though most polls show his rival, frontrunner Enrique Peña Nieto, with a comfortable lead. Many say the left should be a powerhouse in Mexico, due to the country’s vast disparities between rich and poor. But the main leftist party, the Party of the Democratic Revolution(PRD), has never held the presidency.
Mr. López Obrador and his PRD almost won the previous election in 2006, and to some observers, he did. After his defeat he declared fraud and led sit-in protests that brought Mexico City to a standstill, alienating many of his supporters and dividing his party.