What Ails Mexican Democracy

Too Much Hope, Too Little Change

Demonstrators hold up posters in a protest march demanding to know the whereabout of high school student Marco Antonio Sanchez, who disappeared several days ago after a dispute with police officers, Mexico City, Mexico, January 28, 2018. Henry Romero / Reuters

Millions of Mexican citizens will go to the polls on July 1 to elect a new president, just as they have done, like clockwork, every six years since 1934. If experience is any guide, the election will proceed without incident: polls will open on time, observers will pronounce the voting to have been “free and fair,” and the losers will congratulate the winner, even if they also pledge to “continue the fight.” But all is not well with Mexican democracy. Public support for democratic institutions is low, and faith in the democratic process is waning. The current president, Enrique Peña Nieto, has logged some of the worst public approval ratings ever recorded in Mexico—as low as 12 percent, according to one poll from January 2017. His administration is widely blamed for failing to solve Mexico’s most vexing problems: civil-war-like levels of violence, high crime rates, blatant corruption and impunity at the

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