This week The Economist has created a very interesting and innovative forum to discuss the pros and cons of the PRI party regaining power in Mexico after losing the presidency to the PAN in 2000. This forum takes two campaign leaders from both parties and places them in an open debate over the next week focusing on whether or not Mexico would be better under a PRI government. Votes and Responses on the forum can be registered by anyone and they are quite in-depth and well thought out. I highly recommend taking a look at the debate, commenting and voting for the party you think would be best for the future of Mexico. The link can be found here.
The question of whether or not Mexico will be better off under the PRI is an interesting one, as it is unclear whether the old PRI government or a new PRI party is the real focus of the discussion. I believe the debate questions were cleverly worded in this way to spur debate. The PAN victory in 2000 was not just one that represented the ideology of the PAN, but was a reflection of Mexico becoming a truly multiparty state and a much stronger democracy. During the two terms of the PAN, the economy has been placed into a very positive position after a few years of economic challenges. Mexico’s economy may put it in the position to be a possible BRICS nation, and claims for growth and savings may reach levels never seen before in Mexico’s modern economic history. Despite Mexico’s successes, the drug war and extreme violence from the conflict have dominated the daily lives of many Mexicans and put a shadow on Mexican society. These two major factors have pushed and pulled debates on other issues in Mexico and have had some influence on where the votes have gone during the campaign. Right now the PRI candidate, Pena Nieto has been leading despite the traditional history of the PRI party and with little information on whether or not the PRI has changed or ever intended to change. With successes in the fight against the cartels in Colombia over the last few years has made it difficult for Calderon to avoid challenging the drug issue in Mexico, but it is difficult to say whether or not the PRI will return the country to a passive approach on drugs or continue Calderon’s battle.
Many of the responses reflect a truly disenchanted feeling among the debate’s voters about all the possible future leaders of Mexico. The interesting irony is that while Mexico’s economy is doing well, despite the well known drug conflict taking place in many parts of the state, the PAN may end up in third place at the end of the campaign. The PAN party could have claimed economic successes in its campaign, but chose to take to a platform on “change” under the PAN candidate Vazquez Mota instead of focusing directly on its positive developments with the economy post-2008. An attack on the old PRI has not given them the support that might have been expected. The “change” campaign might work better for Obama than with the governing PAN party. This left the PRI to saturate Mexican media with positive statements despite not showing any true policy developments or changes to the party after twelve years as opposition. The resulting malaise in the Mexican political debate is the result; however, from seeing comments on past campaigns, there is often a malaise among most voters in past elections in Mexico and in many other countries. Mexico is in one of the best places it has been in its recent history, and the question that should really be of the greatest concern is whether or not the PAN can grow Mexico into a bigger and prouder nation with the resources to truly grow, or whether the PRI will take current surpluses and be a new PRI and grow the country to a larger status as opposed to spending the profits on rewarding the old PRI bureaucracy. Please add your comments, and votes as soon as you can on the current debate. The rebuttal will be published on Friday.