As the presidential campaign officially begins, time is running out to catch up with Enrique Peña Nieto
Mar 31st 2012 | MEXICO CITY
TWELVE years ago Mexicans voted to boot the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) out of government, in the first fair presidential election in the country's history. The PRI had ruled Mexico uninterruptedly for seven decades through co-option and, when necessary, election-fiddling. But when Mexicans go to the polls on July 1st, they look likely to vote the old ruling party back to power. As the presidential campaign officially begins on March 30th, Enrique Peña Nieto (pictured above), the PRI's candidate, has a poll lead of around 15 percentage points.
He has been helped by the weakness of the most recent occupants of Los Pinos, the presidential residence. Vicente Fox won the presidency for the conservative National Action Party (PAN), but proved a disappointment in office. Felipe Calderón, also from the PAN, whom the constitution bars from running for a second term, is set to leave office with an approval rating lower than those of the PRI presidents of the 1990s. The shock waves of Wall Street's implosion in 2008 were amplified in Mexico, where the economy shrank by 6.1% the following year. It has bounced back. But Mr Calderón's attempts to rein in organised crime have seen a doubling of the murder rate. And the many reforms he promised were either much diluted, or stillborn.