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News > Latin America

Mexico's Peña Nieto Broke Half His Campaign Promises

  • President Enrique Peña Nieto in press conference at the National Palace. Mexico City, Mexico. August 20, 2018

    President Enrique Peña Nieto in press conference at the National Palace. Mexico City, Mexico. August 20, 2018 | Photo: EFE

Published 28 August 2018

Enrique Peña Nieto will leave office with the lowest approval ratings in three decades.

Almost three months before finishing his six-year administration, the incumbent president of Mexico Enrique Peña Nieto has failed to accomplish 49.6 percent of his campaign promises, despite having them notarized.


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Peña Nieto will have his sixth and last government report on September 3 and the media is already bombarding the population with a series of spots showing that Mexico “is now better than before.” The spots aim to show the progress accomplished and the success of the neoliberal reforms passed during his administration, arguing that Mexico has now more foreign investment and better employment stats than ever before.

The idea permeated by this media avalanche is to give the feeling that Peña Nieto and the crumbling Revolutionary Institutional Party (PRI) did accomplish something during the last six years. The party is living a crisis moment as the recently founded center-left National Renewal Movement (Morena) shook the traditional political establishment and became the strongest political force in the country, replacing the PRI.

Part of Morena’s success is due to a general discontent towards a corrupt political class that promises and never accomplishes. In his 2012 campaign, Peña Nieto did as any other traditional politician has done before him: he promised. But he went a step further, by making a list of his promises and which were notarized.

That particular act, while making him look confident about his capabilities, was not legally binding and there was no way to make him fulfill those promises. It was merely symbolic.

An investigation by the Mexican news outlet Sin Embargo showed that the government of Peña Nieto failed to accomplish 132 of the 266 promises notarized, amounting to 49.6 percent. His campaign slogan, “I sign it and I accomplish it for you,” turn out to be itself a mere promise.

His presidential period began on December 1, 2012, amid protests. Already during his campaign, a great part of Mexico’s society rejected his candidacy, accusing him of serious human rights abuses during his term as governor of the State of Mexico, a stronghold of the PRI. His approval rate was never high, but it kept sinking with time.

By 2015, he had only fulfilled 10.52 percent of his promises. It was a slow start, but by 2017 that percentage went up to 38.35. The speed increased during the last years, but it was not enough. According to Sin Embargo, Peña Nieto would have to rule another decade to accomplish all he promised.


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His approval rate is the lowest in the last 30 years, with less than 10 percent at its worst. With a record number of violent deaths, kidnappings, increased poverty and cases such as the forced disappearance of 43 rural students from Ayotzinapa and a military-led massacre in Tlatlaya.

One of his biggest fumbles will probably be the battle against corruption. His government plan included the creation of a National Anti Corruption Commission. But not even two years after taking office a journalistic investigation by MVS and The Wall Street Journal revealed that Peña Nieto and his Treasury Minister Luis Videgaray had acquired luxurious houses at surprisingly low credit rates from the government’s main contractors. To cover up the mess, Peña Nieto appointed Virgilio Andrade Martinez, a man he trusted, as head of the investigation team that was supposed to hold public servants accountable. In the end, Andrade declared they had not done anything wrong and the anti-corruption commission never took off.

But the spots and Peña Nieto, during his public speeches, showcase different numbers. According to the president himself, his government accomplished 95 percent of his campaign promises, and the ones that were left behind were due to the fall in international oil prices.

Also, his newest spots brag about cheaper services, more accessible education and other wonderful accomplishments. However, Sin Embargo shows that electricity prices, as promised, didn’t go down but up; access to education did not reach the promised levels; some hospitals were built, some weren’t; none of the environmental promises were accomplished but the government still holds up high achievement numbers. 

Peña Nieto’s government ends on November 30, and the president-elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador will then be sworn in on December 1 for a period of six years.

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