The ruling party candidate is a Yale-educated economist and an astute technocrat, but has never before run for public office. Ernest Zedillo Ponce de Leon, considered lacking in charisma, was chosen when the original PRI candidate, Luis Donaldo Colosio, was assassinated in March. After initial turmoil, party hard-liners (``dinosaurs'') closed ranks with the reformists (``Salinas yuppies'') rather than risk losing the election. Under President Carlos Salinas de Gortari, Mr. Zedillo held the posts of secretary of planning and budget and secretary of education.
Zedillo's economic program is likely to follow the pro-NAFTA Salinas model, promoting foreign trade and investment, controlling inflation, and keeping public finances in the black. He has promised to get the sluggish Mexican economy growing at a 3.8 percent rate next year and to boost social and infrastructure spending above current levels.
Zedillo pledges an overhaul of the justice system in response to the widespread public concern over security, prompted in recent months by Colosio's killing, the Chiapas uprising, and kidnappings of prominent businessmen. Zedillo also recognizes the need to ``perfect'' Mexico's demo- cracy. He advocates a more independent Congress (a probable occurrence if the PRI loses their congressional majority) and endorses the electoral reforms as sufficient for clean elections.