At this crucial moment in their country’s history, millions of Mexicans are going to the polls today to elect a new president.
Widespread violence and corruption by the drug cartels operating in Mexico and an economy whose improvements aren’t reaching society’s neediest are just two of the huge challenges facing the next head of state.
The big question is whether, among the presidential candidates, there is one who has the leadership capable of taking hold of the reigns of the young democracy and leading it through this profound crisis. We hope so and we hope that the voters choose that individual.
Over the past three months, Enrique Peña Nieto of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador of the Party of the Democratic Revolution, Josefina Vazquez Mota of the National Action Party, and Gabriel Quadri of the National Alliance, have presented and debated their platforms and attacked each others’ positions. They’ve even signed a civility statement to honor the results of the discredited Federal Electoral Institute.
The campaign has been characterized by conflicting public opinion polls as well as charges of electoral irregularities such as vote buying.
Perhaps the campaign season’s most notable development has been the rise of the “I am #132” movement, which has channeled young people’s discontent with Peña Nieto and the possibility of a return to the dark days of the PRI’s “perfect dictatorship.”
The youth reaction emerged prior to the public opinion polls that put the PRI candidate in the lead, although the final outcome is unpredictable given that there are 72 million voters, of which 40% are expected to not vote.
Uncertainty looms. What is clear is that switching parties in power didn’t turn out to be a magic solution to the country’s problems without also the courage to tackle structural challenges and to aggressively pursue corruption at all levels.
The influence of the cartels on the political process is also an unknown. They present an enormous challenge to the institutions of the state and to public safety.
The period for predictions and speculations is now over. It is time for voters to decide on Mexico’s future path.