Mexico's New President Faces Big Challenges

To tackle the drug violence problem, Peña Nieto will have to work with the U.S. on decreasing the smuggling of weapons across the border. He'll also have to work with Mexico's northern neighbor on ways to reduce demand for drugs, and he'll have to decrease impunity in Mexico, where more than nine out of 10 homicides go unpunished.

"What we've had until now, with the Calderon administration, is a military force that detains a bunch of people," said political analyst and radio show host Leonardo Curzo. "They pass them on to prosecutors who don't have the skills or resources to build up a credible case."


The growing influence of drug cartels in Mexico also means that the country has become more corrupt. In just two years, from 2009 to 2011, Mexico fell from 89 in Transparency International's "Corruptions Perceptions Index" to 100, where first place equals "least corrupt." Meanwhile, Mexico ranked only above Russia and China in the 2011 Bribe Payers Index, a survey that ranks 28 different countries according to the likelihood that their companies will pay bribes when working abroad.

One issue Peña Nieto will have to look at is how to make state governors more accountable with the money that they receive from the federal government. Currently there is no pressure on them to disclose what they are doing with those funds to the general public. Another challenge for the incoming president of Mexico will be to provide local government officials with incentives to please people and not local party leaders.

A recent article by the Economist suggests that this could be done by allowing mayors, governors, and state assembly members to get re-elected. The prospects of re-election could give these officials an incentive to respond to voters concerns instead of answering to the wishes of party leaders, at least throughout their first term in office.

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