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Column 082012 Wall

Monday, August 20, 2012

The Newly Elected Mayor of Busy Mexico City will take office in December

By Allan Wall

In the recent Mexican elections, held on July 1st, Mexicans went to the polls and elected a new president and an entirely new congress.  In addition, gubernatorial elections were held in six states, while legislative and municipal elections were held in 12 states.

In Mexico City, the Federal District, voters selected their next Jefe de Gobierno, Miguel Angel Mancera, of the coalition PRD/PT/MC.  Mancera is scheduled to take office on December 5th, replacing current Jefe Marcelo Ebrard.

To get an idea of how the PRD alliance dominated the Mexico City election, consider that nationally Enrique Peña Nieto, of the PRI (Partido Revolucionario Institucional), won the Mexican presidency with a plurality, with 38.21% of the vote, in a still-contested election.  In contrast, Mancera won the Mexico City mayoral post with a clear majority of 63.56% of the vote.

Not only that, but the PRD won a clear majority in the district's legislative assembly, and the leadership posts of 14 of the city's 16 boroughs.

The city, in other words, is politically dominated by the PRD and its allies.  If you think about it, that's a rather big consolation prize for the party which still claims it was robbed of the national election.

What kind of a city is Mexico City?  Not only is it the capital of Mexico, it's also Mexico's financial and economic hub, as well as the cultural and media center, all in all a fascinating urban area.

I invite the reader to peruse my article entitled Mexico City: Forward Looking City with a Pre-Hispanic Past.  It includes some very nice photographs of the city, taken by my wife and children, also available here.

Mexico's capital is a federal district, not part of any state, with a similar status to Washington, D.C. in the U.S.  In contrast to D.C., Mexico City has representatives and senators in the Mexican Congress.  Nevertheless, its governmental authority is still limited and circumscribed, lacking powers of statehood.  Yet through the years it has gained more authority to govern itself than it formerly possessed.  In 1997 it won the right to elect its own mayor, or Jefe de Gobierno.

The city is full of history and culture.  It has more museums than any other city in the world (about 160), over 100 art galleries, and 30 concert halls. Mexico is surpassed only by New York City, London and Toronto in the quantity of theaters.

Mexico City is also home of the UNAM, North America's oldest university and a number of others.  There are stadiums, churches, markets and residential areas of all social levels.

Although there are plenty of poor people in the Mexican capital, its poverty level is lower than the Mexican average, and its residents have a higher GDP per capita than most of Latin America.

As a huge, teeming city, the Federal District has plenty of problems to challenge Miguel Mancera.  These include the usual big city problems: crime, traffic, water supply, waste removal, etc.

A good working relationship between the national Mexican government and the city government would be a big help.  After all, both the federal and district governments are located within the same city!

President-elect Enrique Peña Nieto is slated to take office as president of Mexico on December 1, whereas Miguel Mancera is scheduled to take office as Mayor of Mexico City on December 5.  Peña Nieto belongs to the PRI, while Mancera belongs to the PRD, which still does not recognize Peña Nieto's victory.

If this situation persists into December and beyond, what will the political ramifications be?  Will it be like the past six years, in which Mayor Marcelo Ebrard refused to appear publicly with President Felipe Calderon, and did not do so until 2011?  Will Mancera take his cue from Ebrard and from his party's losing presidential candidate, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who is still contesting the election?

The good news here is it appears that Mexico's mayor-elect is his own man.  In an interview in late July, Mancera stated that he plans to work with the president of Mexico, whomever he may be.

That's a very good sign.  Mancera and Peña Nieto will have six years together so they may as well find a way to get along, somehow, for the good of Mexico City and its millions of inhabitants.

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Allan Wall, an educator, resided in Mexico for many years.  His website is located at http://www.allanwall.info/.


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