Turn of the Century Presidential Elections
In elections held on July 2, 2000, the PRI lost
the presidency, ending 71 years of one-party rule. The new president,
Vicente Fox Quesada of the conservative National Action Party (PAN), vowed
tax reform, an overhaul of the legal system, and a reduction in power of
the central government. By 2002, however, Fox had made little headway on
his ambitious reform agenda. Disfavor with Fox was evident in 2003
parliamentary elections, when the PRI rebounded.
In 2004, a two-year investigation into the
“dirty war,” which Mexico's authoritarian government waged
against its opponents in the 1960s and 1970s, led to an
indictment—later dropped—against former president Luis
Echeverria for ordering the 1971 shooting of student protesters.
In 2005, Andrés Manuel López
Obrador, the enormously popular mayor of Mexico City, emerged as a
presidential candidate for the leftist Party of the Democratic Revolution.
López Obrador seemed likely to defeat the party of the deeply
unpopular incumbent, Vicente Fox. But in Oct. 2005, Felipe Calderón
unexpectedly became the candidate of Fox's National Action Party (PAN),
defeating Fox's chosen successor. By spring 2006, Felipe Calderón
had caught up to López Obrador in opinion polls. In the July
election, Calderón won 35.9% of the vote, a razor-thin margin over
López Obrador, who received 35.3%. López Obrador appealed
the election, but on Aug. 28, Mexico's top electoral court rejected
López Obrador's allegations of fraud. His supporters held massive
protest rallies before and after the verdict. Calderón was sworn in
on Dec. 1. He vowed to make fighting the drug cartels a top priority, and he dispatched tens of thousands of soldiers and police to confront them.
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