Presidential election in mexico: back to power with a beaming man?

The new face of the old party is a radiant man – and in a victorious pose: Enrique Pena Nieto has the best chances of becoming the new president of Mexico. His PRI party ruled on a "give and take" principle for 70 years until there was nothing left to distribute. Now she is reaching for power again. Today will be elected.

By Martin Polansky, ARD radio studio Mexico

Pena – the campaign song booms from dozens of mega speakers. The PRI strategists have put up a huge tent roof to protect them from the scorching midday sun. And many thousands of people crowd below to see him: Enrique Pena Nieto. For the candidate, the performance in Chalco is practically a home game. In the poor suburb south of Mexico City, the PRI, the Party of Institutionalized Revolution, has always regulated everything and had the strings in hand. And now the smart Pena should become President of Mexico and lead the PRI back to power after twelve years. He is way ahead in the polls.

The staging is perfect. A kind of catwalk through the whole tent was kept free. And when Pena appears, he almost throws himself into the people, with a winning pose he can be photographed. His triumphal procession to the stage takes twenty minutes. "This is the time to close the ranks and move forward," the candidate shouts to the crowd. "Everyone will win with us. With this project of change, a clear course and stability."

A beam man

Enrique Pena Nieto: The new face of an old party. A beaming man – so very different from the many apparatchiks in the PRI. 45 years old, handsome, second married to Gaviota, a former telenovela star. She is so glamorous that everyone here knows her. Some of the women from the poor district of Chalco hold up self-painted signs: "I am a Gaviota too" is written on them.

The PRI ruled Mexico for seven decades. That was also a bit of a telenovela – but more of the dark episodes. Corruption, intrigue, nepotism. For many years there was practically no opposition. Some protests were shot down.

The principle of performance and consideration

The PRI is a very special party, says the political scientist Gunther Maihold, who is currently teaching in Mexico. The PRI cannot be compared with European parties. "It is hardly described by programmatic positions in terms of content. It thrives on the fact that an abundance of social organizations and groups are grouped under a clientele system that lives in particular on the government providing appropriate resources for the respective interests lives from performance and consideration, from loyalty and commitment of this loyalty – both upwards and downwards. "

A perfect dictatorship

The PRI used to be a kind of state party. Something fell away for almost everyone – for entrepreneurial families, the trade unions, powerful local princes. The PRI gave, the PRI took. A perfect dictatorship, as the writer Mario Vargas Llosa once sarcastically called it.

When, with the debt crisis of the 1980s, there was nothing left to distribute, the PRI had to make concessions to the opposition. In the election in 2000, the PRI then lost the presidency.

Poverty, social inequality, drug war

Now, twelve years later, Mexicans are primarily concerned with two issues. The poverty and social inequality that the current Conservative government has not seriously addressed. And: drug crime. President Felipe Calderon wages war on the cartels. And they fight each other to control the most lucrative smuggling routes to the USA. The fighting has cost more than 50,000 lives so far.

People want peace again. And many supporters of the PRI in Chalco believe that the former state party can best restore them – in their own way: "You have to talk to the drug cartels, sit down with them," explains one PRI supporter. "The Mafia is here now. We need an agreement with them. So that the common people are left alone. Because we are hardest hit."

The PRI’s official security concept is rather vague. Candidate Pena speaks of reinforcing the federal police. The formation of a national gendarmerie with military personnel is also planned. The fight against the cartels should continue, but more effectively.

Ruling party far behind in polls

According to surveys, the candidate of the conservative ruling PAN party, Josefina Vazquez Mota, has little hope of becoming Mexico’s first female president – even if she ceaselessly warns of the PRI and Pena Nieto: "I am different from this PRI candidate. We can Don’t let her come back. We know his friends. Even if they try to look young and modern with him. "

But Vazquez’s election campaign suffers from President Calderon’s unsuccessful drug war. Added to this is the disappointment over twelve years of PAN’s reign. A fundamental change, a real departure from the PRI system of the clientele economy, says the Mexican historian Jose Antonio Crespo: "The people expected that the other parties would be more correct. But no matter who rules, we see corruption and impunity everywhere. This corrupt nepotism just seems to be part of the country, part of the system. And a lot of people are now saying, ‘Why not the PRI, it at least has experience’. "

Student protests against the political class

But there is also protest. Tens of thousands of students have marched through Mexico City in protest over the past few weeks. This movement formed out of nowhere. Disappointment and anger about a political class that does not manage to break up the cemented social differences in the country and create opportunities for the young.

Their protest is directed primarily against one: Enrique Pena Nieto and his PRI. The young Mexicans want to create a counter-public sphere. Especially since Pena paid the largest television broadcaster Televisa, according to newspaper reports, more than 30 million euros. Not only for commercials but also for positive reporting. Democracy in Mexican. "I think this movement has to achieve a cultural change," says the student Rosana Horschneider. "We are no longer allowed to adapt. We have to take our own fate into our own hands. The PRI has always lied and manipulated and thus played people off against each other."

"I give you my signature"

Meanwhile, Enrique Pena Nieto celebrates his appearance in Chalco. It’s a home game for him because he was governor of the local state of Estado de Mexico for six years. Entrepreneurs praise his business-friendly policies and that he has done a lot for the infrastructure. At the same time, according to Transparency International, the Estado de Mexico was one of the most corrupt states in the country during Pena’s tenure.

But the poor Chalco people hope that something will fall away for them under President Pena. And the candidate makes concrete commitments on stage. He demonstratively signs his promises. "I’ll give you my signature. You will get better local transport, a sewage tunnel and a safe supply of drinking water. We are moving forward for a better future. Let us achieve it – with the victory on July 1st."

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