Mexico’s election in 2012 most decisive in history

Carlos Fuentes, the Mexican writer and statesman, recently told the Globe’s editorial board that Mexico’s 2012 elections will be the most decisive in its history. The next president will have to confront the brutality of the drug cartels, and find a way to restore the public’s faith in security, and in the nation’s ability to transform itself.

Although the homicide rate is still lower than in some neighbouring countries, the drug war has unleashed violence of a horrific nature since 2006, under Pres. Felipe Calderon’s military-led campaign against the drug kingpins.

Mr. Calderon has scored some serious blows against the cartels, but these successes will be undone if his successor does not have the stomach for the fight.

The front runner to replace Mr. Calderon is the telegenic Enrique Pena-Nieto, from the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI). Mr. Pena-Nieto has committed several blunders during his campaign. In a recent interview, he had trouble naming the three books he has been most influenced by, and attributed one of Mr. Fuentes’ works to another writer. Embarrassing though this is, Mr. Pena-Nieto still commands a substantial lead. The country’s once-dominant political party is on track to a comeback, following its defeat in 2000. Mr. Calderon, of the National Action Party, cannot seek re-election, and his party is trailing after two consecutive terms in office.

Drug trafficking organizations have a stake in influencing the outcome of the election -- and a history interfering in local and state elections. Mr. Calderon is rightly concerned about criminal intervention in the electoral process. Though politics at a national level are less corrupt, and the Federal Electoral Institute runs a clean election, the drug cartels still have the power to intimidate voters and influence events. In the past, the PRI negotiated with the cartels. However, a return to this strategy is neither advisable, nor practical. Mexico’s next president should have the courage to continue to dismantle the drug cartels’ power, as well as carry through with police and military reforms. Only then, will public confidence be restored.

Posted in Politic / Economic issues, Government