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Mexico’s president: The year of leading from behind

WHEN Enrique Peña Nieto spoke at an Economist conference this month, he was reminded that this newspaper had cautiously endorsed him for president last year as the “least bad” of the candidates. The audience laughed nervously; easy-going in person, the president is rarely exposed to such public leg-pulling. But though his first year in office has had downs, it has had more ups. If he can bring home the raft of reforms that he has launched, he could transform Mexico.That is a big if. The theme that has infused this year’s changes is competition. Mexico, ruled once again by the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) which led it for 71 years until 2000, remains in the grip of monopolistic businesses and unions. With the formal backing of the two main opposition parties in the “Pact for Mexico”, Mr Peña has set out to rewrite parts of the constitution to weaken those entrenched interests. The aim, he says, is to boost Mexico’s lacklustre economic growth and productivity and reduce the poverty which still afflicts about half the population. The legislative agenda is not yet complete, though Congress expects to wrap up the main reforms by...

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