The Mexican miracle
The following is a list of events, information, figures and other elements that describe what later became known as the “milagro Mexicano”.
There is no consensus on the exact dates of this period. Some say from 1958 to 1972. Others say that in includes the fifties and the sixties up to the election of President Echeverría in 1970. The names used to christen this period also vary.
The labels “desarrollo estabilizador”, the “Mexican miracle” and “healthy development” have been used. The main idea behind these names is somewhat nostalgic and denotes something like the good old days, when there was no inflation, economic growth was solid and the country was under stable conditions.
The Mexican economy grew. This growth was widely recognized. The GDP increased at 6% annually on average. Per capita GDP increased 3%. The outlook seemed promising. However, at the end of this period there were ominous indications regarding domestic savings not being sufficient to finance growth. The Mexican economic activities needed funds that were not available internally. Mexican savings rate was not enough for companies who needed capital and credit.
The government’s deficit was not significant. Overall, during this period, the Mexican government managed its finances with responsibility. Some years it even produced a surplus and deficits were small and insignificant.
The main idea in the country for managing the economy was protectionism. It was widely popular in both public and private sectors. Nobody challenged this policy and it was widely implemented. What protectionism meant was very simple.
Mexican companies were to be protected from foreign competition in order to have a better chance to develop internally. National industry was to be fortified. Thus, strong limitations were imposed on imports, to the point that in Mexico in those years there were practically no imported products. All things were made in Mexico. This policy actually started in 1947 but its results were felt in the following decade.
It is accepted that during this period there were ups and downs. Despite these fluctuations, overall the net result was positive at least in the first years. The Mexican economy grew and Mexicans increased their living standards. Government’s finances were conservatively managed. Very little public debt was contracted. This policy was abandoned gradually.
One of the highlights of the period was the increase of the general productivity by 3%. Real income also grew by 2% annually on average. All products were made in Mexico. Companies established in the country enjoyed the advantages of a captive market. Imports were prohibited or strictly controlled through very high taxes and quotas. For example, all automobiles were made in Mexico.
The prohibition of imported goods contributed to contraband. Mexico’s large border with the USA became a large source of illegal activities and corruption. It is said that people in Mexico wanted better quality products. Some people have mentioned that the TV set brand with the largest market share during the seventies was Sony… a brand not legally sold in the country.
The government’s main focus during this period was industrial development. Very little attention was given to agriculture and activities in the primary sector. It was no surprise that those activities were weakened. Everybody talked about industrialization. The banking sector increased three times its size during the period.
There were positive effects due to the protectionist policies. Companies developed and grew. But there was a limit to their size, that is, they could not grow beyond the dimension of the domestic markets. That was their limit. Why did Mexico’s industry increased? Some say that it was because there were no imports to compete with. Others say that it was because national demand developed with real increases in personal income.
Inflation is another key variable to look at during this period. In short, inflation was not a problem. There was no government deficit. From 1957 to 1962 inflation was 2.9% and mostly due to external prices.
Mexican companies had no mechanism to generate foreign currency to pay for foreign machinery and equipment. This was an important drawback of protectionism. When companies do not have foreign currency it is very difficult to buy tools and equipment they need for their growth and modernization.
Mexican companies attended the Mexican market only. They did no export. They faced little competition and did not have incentives for product improvement, nor technological development. Under these circumstances it is reasonable to predict higher prices and lower quality in products and goods.
The first problems of the period began in the early sixties. There was a slowdown in the economy. Government spent more; the deficit increased together with external debt. Doing this, it was hoped, would revitalize the economy.
Between 1963 and 1971 the economy kept growing. GDP increased 7% annually on average. However, economic development was not a national phenomenon. Development took place mostly in urban areas, but not in rural regions. Logically, there is migration to the urban centers where people look for opportunities.
Clearly, government policies overlooked the rural areas, the primary sector. This is when the “two Mexicos” are borne. One is the urban, industrialized, growing Mexico. The other is the rural, poor, unattended Mexico.
During this Mexican miracle productivity grew, mostly due to public and private investment. With better equipment and improved facilities it is possible for the same worker to produce more. In 1960 the electric company was nationalized.
Not only were Mexican companies protected form imports. There were also protected from foreign investments. Mexican companies did not have to face competition from foreign companies wanting to invest inside Mexico. One of the ideas widely accepted was that of national self-sufficiency. Mexicans did not want to be dependent on foreign goods.
Food was the main concern and it was a high priority for Mexico to produce all the foodstuff it needed. This was probably one of the faces of Mexican nationalism that inclines the country to an isolationist position. Mexico wanted to be self-sufficient in terms of food and energy (the national oil company is Pemex, the state owned monopoly).
Import substitution was the name of the economic policy that was adopted, mostly applied to first-order goods. Second-order goods like machinery, tools and equipment should logically follow the same strategy. That is goods that produce goods should be manufactured in Mexico too so the country does not depend on foreign suppliers. If those capital goods could be manufactured locally Mexico would not be dependent on foreign technology and foreign currency would not be needed.
For example, it is easy to manufacture beer but not that easy to manufacture the machines that are used for beer production. But if a company were founded in the country to produce such equipment then its sales would be limited to the national market. And the national market is very small for such a company or any other specialized in second, third or fourth order goods.
Many companies received incentives for import substitutions. There were subsidies and special tax considerations for those companies. The size of the Mexican market did no justify many of the investments so subsidies and the like were needed to convince investors. Protectionism yielded good results mainly during the first half of this period.
This is widely agreed, but it is also recognized that such a policy created oligopolies that did not care for quality products or technological improvements. Production efficiency was ignored. Mexican products were expensive and low quality.
International competition was ignored. Mexican companies depended exclusively on the growth of the domestic market. More over, there were paradoxical situations where foreign companies already established in Mexico were protected against competition from other foreign investors who were considering investing in Mexico.
Agricultural activities were disregarded. This helped the industrialization to a certain extent because emigration from the rural areas provided low cost labor to industries. Moreover, government policy looking for food self-sufficiency favored maize, beans and other staples to be the main farming goods despite the fact that other goods could have produced higher incomes to farmers and peasants…and foreign currency. There were no private investments in agriculture. Property rights were not secure and maximum real state properties were very small to be efficient.
The first half of this period was its better part. The last ten years were clearly not as good. There were problems like an economic slowdown, an undeveloped agricultural sector, irresponsible government expenditure, and increased public debt.
There was a tense political situation. The government was increasingly perceived as an authoritarian institution violating human rights. There was no freedom of expression in the country. And in 1968 there was the Tlatelolco march, brutally repressed by the government.
So politically and economically Mexico was suffering. Then came two presidents and a new period that was destined to have long-term effects in Mexico.
As before the following is bulleted information for the period that started in 1970 with president Echeverría followed by president López Portillo, ending in 1982.
Economically, the beginning of this period did not look auspicious. The Mexican miracle had ended. However, after the first year the economic activity is strong. At the end of president Echeverria’s period there is a crisis in the balance of payments and a high external debt.
The government expenditures have been out of proportion. Moreover, at the end of this period, in 1982, another crisis develops. An even higher external debt is the inheritance to future generations. Many experts have concluded that populism hurt the Mexican economy very deeply, leaving an impressive external debt and its effects.
Public deficit at the beginning of the period was about 2.5% of GDP. It grew to 14% in 1982, almost six times. This is a logical effect of current thinking at the time: government expenditures were thought to be the trigger of economic development. An important factor to consider in explaining the populist ideas of these two presidents is the political events of 1968 and 1971. Both thought vital to accelerate economic growth using expedite policies.
After the fact, it became clear that the government wanted to have economic growth at any cost. The political situation was red hot. Mexicans saw the government as an authoritarian force that limited liberties. Remember 1968 and the student revolts in many countries, USA, France, the Prague revolts.
One of the main traits of populist governments in their great emphasis on government expenditure. Since they did not want to increase taxes because this would cause loss of popularity among the lower classes, they increased taxes only for companies and high-income people, and increased public debt, both internal and external. Moreover, intentional money printing was frequently done.
During those administrations, great public works and programs were undertaken, almost all with great haste and extreme priorities. Naturally, all fiscal responsibility and common sense was abandoned. There was such urgency in implementing many public projects that many of them were initiated without prior analysis and became great failures wasting money. It is said that many investments were started with no official approval, just the verbal instructions of the president.
Money printing became a source a funds for the government in order to have enough to keep the expenditure rolling. Of course, this created inflation. At the beginning of the period inflation was 2.6%, in 1972. In that same year GDP grew 8% and per capita GDP grew 5%.
The government tried to implement unsuccessfully a tax reform. Private investment during the period, in its first half diminished significantly. During Echeverrías’s period there was great animosity between the private and the public sector. Government’s attacks on private companies were frequent and serious. The government was heavily inclined to socialist policies and this infuriated investors and private companies.
When inflation is higher than passive interest rates, investors get negative interest rates. When this happened it seem logical for investors to deal directly with debtors avoiding intermediaries, such as banks. Part of the effects of protectionist policies was the creation of an industrial plant that was inefficient, wasted resources and was not creating new employment.
At the end of the period there was a great crisis that included the devaluation of the peso. Also, one of the last decrees of president López Portillo was the nationalization of the banks to which he blamed for the crisis. As part of the emergency measures decreed by this crisis, the government issued an increase of minimum wages, 23%. This sent the wrong message to investors both in Mexico and abroad. Also, an exchange control was ordered, another wrong signal to the international community. Confidence in the country was broken.
Inflation was 100% and growing. External debt was 80 billion dollars, 70% government debt.
The last half of this period had a significant economic expansion. From 1977 to 1982 the economy grew at an impressive 8% annually. This was the product of government expenditure and the revenues produced by the increase of oil prices in the early seventies.
National demand got bigger, public revenues grew to such an extent that president Lopez Portillo in the first half of his period said that Mexico had only the problem of abundance management.
Public deficit in 1977 was 6.7%. In 1981 it was 14.6%, more than double.
Oil prices played a significant role in president López Portillo’s presidency. The news was a bringer of a spending spree by government. They had plenty of money. Corruption became rampant. It was never thought that oil prices eventually were to be reduced. More debt was obtained from foreign banks. Oil prices stated going down in 1981. It was the beginning of the end of a wild an irresponsible fiesta. The government decided to increase its deficit to avoid an economic slowdown. The problem got bigger.
There is little doubt, populism left the country in shambles. Public debt became a heavy load for future generations. Growth inertia was lost.
As before, the following are events during this new period, known as la apertura, the opening of the country. They should be viewed as part of a puzzle to be assembled.
The opening of the country really started not in the nineties, as is usually thought but a decade earlier after the presidency of López Portillo. President Miguel de la Madrid came to power in the middle of a vast crisis. He was not a populist and for many he started to redirect the country to different policies.
For some others de la Madrid was a quiet, ambivalent, unpretentious man who did very little. He defended a government-planned economy, but at the same time he joined GATT.
In 1987 inflation was 450% and the external debt was about as big as the domestic GDP even after a 53 billion dollar payment in the last five years. This inflation is generally accepted as the long term effect of the populist policies (high government expenditure and money printing). In 1988 president Salinas is elected president amidst strong claims of fraudulent elections.
President Salinas’ intentions became clear after a few months in power. He sent clear messages that he is in control of the country and that his task is to fight inflation in order to stabilize the economy. Inflation should come down to international standards, the country should be opened to free trade and the government sector should become smaller. This was anathema to traditional opinions.
The left is opposed to these changes, but presents little significant resistance. President Salinas also challenges the traditional economic policies of the PRI. The fall of the USSR creates an intellectual climate that favors these reforms. President Salinas is left with a free hand to implement his projects.
During his term, there are mayor political events. Near the end of his term the presidential candidate for the PRI is assassinated and for this cause 11 billion dollars leave the country in just one month. This exerts a tremendous pressure on the parity of the peso. Also the PRI’s general secretary is assassinated during the last months of Salinas’ period. In 1991 there were signs of a weak economy. GDP growth was less than 1%.
The apertura is regarded as a true change in economic policy. Before, government was considered the center and cause of economic development, the key to solve all the problems of the country. Salinas can be regarded as a person who introduced many reforms and gave a new direction to Mexico. A protectionist country opened to free trade and government owned companies were privatized.
At the end of the eighties and in the nineties the intellectual climate had suffered a drastic change, mostly challenging the role of government and leaving out socialist ideas. This made thing easier for president Salinas. Liberalism was clearly ascending leaving behind the ideas of the sixties. Free trade was in vogue again as well as private entrepreneurship.
By the end of 1988 inflation was 25%, which meant a great victory for the president. This was a prerequisite for joining the free trade movement and sign treaties. A free trade agreement was signed with the USA and Canada, NAFTA. Another victory for Salinas.
One of the most notorious reforms of this period was a land reform changing the ejido. This is a small property of farmers, highly inefficient and a basic revolutionary flag for all previous presidents. The ejido is based on the premise that land should be given to the people in the agricultural areas, not as true proprietors but as a means of production for self-consumption.
The owner is not free to sell it. Mostly it is a one family operation that serves more as unemployment insurance. It has been said that the ejido was no created to produce food but to produce electoral votes for the PRI.
Mexico’s corporatist structure made things easy for Salinas. The main leaders were called to agree on basic policies and the rest of the population had no voice. For example, wage increases were agreed to be made on the basis of expected inflation and not past figures. Also, prices of basic goods were agreed in advance. The main objective was to attack the inertia of inflation.
There were serious efforts to attack foreign capital including funds owned by Mexicans in foreign banks. With an increased availability of capital interest rates were expected to go down and allow a more solid economic growth.
Barriers to free trade were removed gradually. Mexican companies began to face competition from abroad. This helped reduce inflation as it put pressure on Mexican companies not to increase their prices. In 1988 the public deficit was 12% of GDP. By 1992 there was a surplus. This helped lower interest rates. Many government owned companies were sold to private investors, including the banks. Ownership of companies may be 100% foreign.
Salinas sent signals that created a credible sense of trust among investors. Capitals flowed to the country.
The Hollandaise Malaise affected some of the investments. By the end of Salinas’ period the peso was overvalued in about 32%. This put pressure on companies established in Mexico. Unemployment grew and payment of private debt began to falter. A great discussion follows. Should the peso be devaluated? The final decision is no, the peso should stay at the same level. Otherwise the president’s administration will be seen as a failure and inflation would soar.
Salinas left Zedillo took office and a big crisis explodes. The peso is devalued and the economy is again in big trouble. President Clinton authorizes an emergency loan to Mexico. Zedillo’s policy maintains the same direction staying away form populist decisions. By the end of his period the economy is in good shape and the unforeseen happens. Fox, a candidate for the PAN wins the elections in 2000.
The last fifty years have yielded clear lessons to be considered by future administrations. The following seem the most relevant.
Mexico’s economy is small
The country cannot stand protectionist policies and even if they are applied economic events outside Mexico will affect its economy. The country needs foreign goods and services. Isolation will eventually create another crisis. Mexico moreover has an intense economic relationship with the USA and this is a fact that cannot be ignored. National sovereignty should be redefined so as not to confuse it with self-sufficiency and independence from foreign influences. Mutual dependence should be accepted to obtain the capital and resources that the country does not possess.
Devaluations should be accepted
Not recognizing an overvaluation of the peso is a mistake. The peso should be allowed to float even if it means a big mistake of the government in the eyes of the people. A cause for a devaluation has clearly been an excessive government spending.
Economic growth tendency has been lost
The lack of economic growth has produce chronic unemployment. Even a real loss of wage levels has not remedied this. It is true that Mexicans have lost purchasing power but had it not been for this the situation would still be worse. Chronic unemployment creates poverty, emigration outside the country and political tension that may favor populist parties. It was the crisis of 1982 that has to be blamed also for a slowdown on education, training and savings.
External debt is not a solution
Debt means having to repay principal an interest without regard to risk and risk is better managed by private individuals. An objective of purely creating employment tends to produce populist results. Domestic savings are no enough for Mexico’s development need. The country needs to become a net recipient of foreign investments.
Growth is a necessity
Domestic savings are needed to help fuel development and thus create employment. Long-term savings need a business climate of trust and equilibrium without major swings in the economy. Population growth, though less than before, requires the creation of investments opportunities that are attractive on international standards. Foreign currency is needed to serve external debts and import needed goods.
Economy is one face of development
Reasonable and sound economic policies are not the answer to Mexico’s problems. They are part of the solution. Mexico should create social conditions that are favorable for development. Many of these conditions should include reforms to labor, health, banking and other laws and regulations with the aim of facilitating the creation of enterprises and their growth. Other needed reforms should focus on the judicial system, police and tribunals, a necessary condition for a stable social milieu. Long term planning needs a reasonable perception of a stable country. The election of a non-PRI president is a step in this direction, however political parties need to learn to go beyond their political agendas and compromise for the good of the country.
Mexico’s political system
The following is a description of the main traits of what can be considered a rather unique political arrangement starting in the beginning of the XX century.
Mexico has enjoyed political stability for many years and this sets the country apart from other Latin American countries. From the thirties and on political continuity has been the rule of the country. Mexico transformed its economic and social structures under a peculiar authoritarian regime that started in 1929, after the 1910 Revolution that followed the porfiriato. The government of the nation was never formed by juntas or by the military.
Neither Mexico was ruled by dictators. It was nonetheless a despotic regime with a façade that made its analysis difficult. “It is not a dictatorship. It is not a democracy either”, was the motto used to describe the political arrangement that ruled the country until 2000.
At the top of the system was the president, an all-powerful position that lasted only six years until the next president took over. Another key element was the ruling party formed by an elaborate and complex network of people under a corporatist structure.
This assembly of elements was efficient enough to represent and manipulate the people. “A perfect dictatorship”, “an imperial presidency”, “presidential monarchy”, “an absolute six-year monarchy” and other expressions were used to describe the system. In almost seventy years this system punctually had elections as in any other democracy.
The legitimacy of the Mexican presidential system was cemented in the ruling party, the PRI. This party successfully organized and integrated workers, farmers, popular sectors and the burocracy under its rigid corporatist structure. No important part of the Mexican people was left out. It was not electoral results that counted but the ability of the president to form alliances and co-opt people and organizations. Very importantly none of the presidents lasted beyond his six-year period. Reelection was unthinkable.
There are several elements that may explain the nature of Mexico’s political system. Some of them are historical, like the authoritarian tradition inherited from the pre-hispanic peoples and reinforced by the Spanish rule. Concentration and centralization of power is the normal state of affairs in Mexico.
The corporatist structure became a way of thinking since the colonial times, under which the individual is ignored for the benefit of the group to which he/she is supposed to belong. There is also a wide gap between the people and the government.
However a nationalist feeling developed during the independence war helping integrate in one country persons that were widely different on a social scale and living in communities across a vast territory. The American invasion in 1848 and the French intervention in 1862-1867 fueled this nationalism across the country, not to mention the loss of the northern territories in 1845.
Porfirio Díaz ruled under the “order and progress” maxim. But he was a dictator that did not want to leave the presidency. Under him Mexico moved forward economically and he provided the people with much needed laws and order. He was a benign dictator that ignored many of the claims of the poor, especially in rural areas. He was an admirer of France to where he went after he was ousted.
The official party
Then came the 1910 Revolution and its unfortunate aftermath, years of chaos and power struggles. Every cacique across the country rebelled seeking personal power and benefits for the group he alleged to represent. These were very difficult times, full of violence that erupted from political, religious and ethnic claims.
By the end of the twenties, president Elias Calles founded the Partido Nacional Revolucionario, the PNR. Its objective was very simple, the party was to assimilate and join in one political force all the generals, caciques, everybody who could start a rebellion seeking power. This was after the Guerra Cristera a popular rebellion against the government for its anti religious policies. Also, in 1928 the reelected president, Alvaro Obregon was assassinated.
Calles wanted the revolutionary forces to become one single group, united, in order to avoid useless fights that weakened the country. Mexico, according to this idea, was to become not a one-man nation but a country of institutions, law and order. The PNR was to become the PRI and maintain power for about seventy years. The party was to help in the negotiations between conflicting groups without resorting to violence, to join in one single organization all the conflicting groups and persons anywhere in the country and to avoid dependence on strong men.
In the thirties, President Cardenas developed even further the PNR idea under a clear and unmistakable corporatist structure. The party was formed by sectors, not by persons. He reformed the party and even changed its name to Partido de la Revolucion Mexicana, keeping the much-valued reference to the Revolución. Thus the PRM was born. For the PRM there was no individual affiliation.
It was sectors that counted. Wanting to become a member of the PRM meant necessarily belonging to one of four sectors of society, the workers, the campesinos, the popular sector and the military. The latter was cancelled in 1940. Since then, the military are a group that is apolitical by definition. There was a conspicuous lack of a private sector.
Cardenas, the next president, was heavily inclined to socialist policies, to the extent that public education had to be by law “socialist”. Agriculture was collectivized through the creation of the ejido a collective property. Workers rights were heavily promoted. In general, the idea of state intervention in the economy was totally accepted and endorsed.
This was the popular profile that the current PRI inherited. The popular causes were the major priorities of the party and managed within an intricate set of corporatist structures not known to the outsider. The people were to be defended by the party, one party only.
For decades the legitimacy of the regime came from economic and social policies, not from electoral results. Subsidies for goods and services produced by the state, free basic education, minimum wage, labor rights and unions, work benefits, social security and others gave the regime its authority. In a democracy, elections decide the selection of candidates and their programs that define the policies of a government.
In Mexico these policies stemmed from a complex set of alliances, internal deals inside the party and private agreements between government and social organizations with corporatist structures under the control of powerful leaders.
In 1946 the PRM underwent a new change becoming the PRI, It was its last transformation. This new reform buried the leftist radicalism of the PRM, but kept its corporatist structure formed by three pillars: workers, peasants and popular.
The structure kept working. The organizations within each sector served as umbrellas for the groups to channel their claims and resolve their conflicts. The government was in a privileged position representing interest groups, most importantly those who may uphold opposite viewpoints.
These corporatist habits distorted the national political system, probably making it difficult to understand. It became a deeply rooted culture accepting the formal existence of caciques that represented groups regardless of individual consideration and established the client practice for their associates.
An example: one labor leader somewhere strikes a deal with a PRI candidate for major of a city, thus the labor union leader promises the candidate that all the unionized workers under his control will vote for him; the leader delivers his promise giving specific instructions to the workers who benefit in some fashion also… and the leader may obtain a favor, such as a public transportation concession.
In 1982 there was a huge economic crisis that opened the door to a government less capable of maintaining big spending policies. The Mexican welfare state started to fade away.
The caudillo justifies his authority on special powers like charisma, leadership and personal power. Under a presidential regime the rest of the governmental powers are under the control of the man in the chair. This silla or chair is the fountain of legitimacy and power for the country. Presidents in Mexico were not considered public officials with responsibilities for serving society.
Presidents in Mexico were looked at as commanding unassailable figures, bringers of favors to those who unconditionally accepted their decisions and unquestioned authority. And for those who opposed them, presidents were sources of penalties and punishments.
The geographical centralization reflected the political concentration. The federal District, that is Mexico City, was de source of power for there resided the president.
The traditional division of political powers was only a façade. It was the president who named the members of congress. The representatives and senators pledged alliance to the president. The judicial went practically unknown. Without the problems of competing parties, the PRI trough the government became the national arbitrator. Interest groups inside the PRI had a much better chance of obtaining their objectives.
The system worked remarkably well for decades providing a much-needed stability for the country. During those 70 years Mexico went from a backward country with a population mostly living in rural areas to and industrial and urban society. So the PRI owes its origins to a society scarcely educated and with no political culture where a corporatist structures presented no difficulties to be imposed.
However, on the other side, this authoritarian government distorted the political system. It was a seemingly insurmountable obstacle for the construction a democratic regime. The corporatist culture prevailed making the individual a silent element under the dominion of the corporate world.
Also, there was no possibility of learning the skills of democracy for compromising between parties. The PRI never had to yield to any party. It was no surprise that such an inflexible authoritarian structure produced corruption in such a scandalous scale that being a politician became synonym of being a multimillionaire.
Crisis and transition
The PRI faced little significant opposition. The PAN presented though a true opposition party helped Mexico present a democratic façade. There were violent opposition labor movements in 1940 and 1958. But the big and significant opposition came in 1968, when student marches protesting repression ended in the Tlatelolco massacre.
It seemed clear that there was a need and an urgent one for reform. The political opening was gradual, with several reforms from 1978 to 1996. These reforms established new norms and rules for elections and opposition parties.
The economic reform of president Salinas at the end of the eighties opened the economy, foreign investment was allowed. Protectionism was abandoned. The government apparatus became smaller. The omni present state ideal came to an end. This gave a major thrust to future political changes. The democratic way of thinking became the people’s ideal. Democracy became the magic word though it was made equivalent to the rather limited meaning of not having the PRI in power.
Mexico in going through a transition stage. From being a closed country it became one on the most opened economies of the world. From being governed by a ruling elite it elected the first president from an opposition party in 2000. Clearly, two main forces are playing in Mexico.
The future-oriented tendencies want a country that keeps walking the road towards becoming a full democracy, with a liberal economy, and the rule of law. This implies making major changes in the Mexican constitution and other laws in labor, banking, telecommunications, energy and others.
The conservative force wants the country to go back to a government-based society, keeping the corporatist structure and maintaining government ownership of the oil and electric industries.
Three main variables seem to be the key factors that will have a profound effect in the future of Mexico. One of them is the ability of the several political parties to negotiate and compromise going beyond their limited short-term party interests.
The second is the possibility of implementing again populist policies that are being promoted by the conservative forces that may have dreadful effects on public finance. And the roles’ of the media, which may help fuel the short-term political conflicts instead of emphasizing the need for political negotiation and compromise.