Part of the answer to Mexico's economic and foreign policy woes lies in the development of democratic traditions within the political system. Mexico's tradition of authoritarianism works against democratization, but modernization of the economy, the political value of populism, and the democratic revolutionary impulses work for it. One of the most important indications of democracy is the development of competitive, clean elections in many parts of the country.
The 1994 campaign for the presidency got off to a very bad start when PRI candidate Luis Donaldo Colosio was assassinated in Tijuana. PRI quickly replaced him with Ernesto Zedillo, but the old specters of violence and chaos threatened the political order. The incumbent president's brother was implicated in the assassination, and high officials were linked to drug trafficking. Despite this trouble, Zedillo stepped up to the challenge, and PRI won the election handily. Many observers believe that the elections of 1994 and 2000 have been the most competitive, fair elections in Mexico's history. The election of 2000 broke all precedents when a PAN candidate - Vicente Fox - won the presidency, finally displacing the 71 year dominance of PRI.
The 2000 presidential victory of Vicente Fox represents one of the most profound changes in Mexican politics in many years. Fox is typical of the small and medium-sized entrepreneurs who became actively engaged in politics in the early 1980s out of their frustration with PRI's mismanagement of the economy. Before the economic crisis of 1982, Fox focused his energeis on working his way from his family's ranch in Guanajuato to the head of the Coca Cola's Latin American operations. After the crisis Fox became active in PAN, supporting its pro-democratic doctrine and opposition to state intervention in the economy. Fox stressed pragmatic politics over ideology, stressing greater flexibility with regard to membership growth and cooperation with other opposition parties.
In 1991 Fox ran for governor of his state of Guanajuato, but lost in a context of widespread fraud, but he ran again in 1995 and won after significant electoral reforms. In 1997 Amigos de Fox formed - a Mexican-style PAC - to help Fox seek the presidency. Through promotional radio and television "infomercials" (like Ross Perot's), globetrotting to meet with international leaders, and a charismatic denim-and-boots cowboy demeanor, Fox won the hearts of the Mexican voters. His pragmatic approach steered the conservative party more toward the middle, and even captured PRD support, after PRD became disenchanted with Cardenas.
Although Fox has served less than three years of his sexenio, he appears to have these goals:
Vicente Fox showed his independence from the United States by criticizing the War in Iraq.
Connect to a biography of Vicente Fox.
Mexican citizens don't always agree with their president. Here's a Vicente Fox protest song.