Political change in Mexico

Enrique Pena Nieto, who won Mexico’s presidential election, campaigned on a pledge to restore peace and prosperity to a nation increasingly weary of drug violence and slow economic growth. His slender margin of victory and lingering worries about the turbulent role his party has played in Mexico’s history, however, suggest that many of his countrymen worry about Pena Nieto’s ability to honor that pledge. That is a concern, too, for the United States.

The two nations are inextricably entwined. What occurs south of the nations’ shared border almost always has an impact north of it. Mexico is the United States’ third largest trading partner and, for better or worse, it also is directly involved in the immigration, drug and gun issues that play a major role in U.S. politics and policies -- at both the state and federal level.

Pena Nieto faces several challenges.

Whether the newly elected president’s claim is correct will determine how he is accepted at home and the international role he ultimately will play. If he helps create a better, safer and less corrupt society, he’ll unite his people, burnish his party’s tarnished reputation and play a major role in cross-border and global affairs.

If he does not, Mexico’s festering economic problems that prompt waves of people to cross into the United States illegally will continue. The power and influence of organized crime and its ability to traffic drugs likely would grow as well.

That would exacerbate the already difficult U.S.-Mexican relationship.

Americans have a vested interest in Pena Nieto’s presidency, but they can do little to influence its success or failure. When all is said and done, the United States must wait to see if he can honor his pledges.