Mexico elections: How 5 local issues could impact the next president

Nearly 80 million Mexicans are eligible to vote on Sunday to elect a new president. Most polls put Enrique Peña Nieto of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) at the front. His main rivals are Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador of the Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD) and Josefina Vazquez Mota of the ruling National Action Party (PAN).

Mexicans will also elect 128 senators, 500 deputies, six governors, and the mayor of Mexico City, one of the most important posts in the nation. Some of these are key races that will have implications for the new president's mandate, the parties' evolving appeal and geographic reach, and the ability for Mexico to pass much needed reforms.

A bellwether state

Esteban Felix/AP
A bus in Mexico City carries political advertisements for PRI candidate Enrique Pena Nieto; polls predict he will win the July 1 election for Mexico's presidency.

The PRI ruled as a one-party system in Mexico for most of the 20th century. When it lost to the PAN in 2000, after 71 years, Mexico hailed the change in power. Now the PRI is poised to take back the presidency: a huge victory for the party. But just as significant would be winning the gubernatorial race in Jalisco state, which is home to Mexico's second biggest city, Guadalajara. It was here in the early 1990s the opposition started showing signs of edging out the PRI's far-reaching foothold in Mexico.

The PRI slowly lost its grip on Mexican society throughout the 1980s and ‘90s but one of the defining moments was the peso devaluation in 1994 and resulting financial crisis. In the midst of this Jalisco, in west-central Mexico, headed to the polls to vote in a governor, and the opposition PAN won. “This election began a wave of PAN victories [at the state level] until finally the PRI was voted out [of the presidency] in 2000,” says Roy Campos, director of the polling firm Mitofsky in Mexico City. Winning Jalisco back would solidify the perception of the PRI's “comeback,” not just at the top but across all levels of government and geographic regions.

A poll in late May by the daily El Universal put the PRI coalition candidate, Jorge Aristóteles Sandoval, in first place.

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