It started even before the elections, with a vibrant student movement that drew tens of thousands of people to the streets to protest against the return to power of Peña Nieto’s Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI. The PRI ruled Mexico for 71 years until 2000.
Large crowds of demonstrators are still taking to the streets — including last Sunday — to protest what they say were fraudulent elections.
At the same time, the parties of Peña Nieto’s two major opponents allege the PRI engaged in vote buying and money laundering during the election. Mexican authorities are investigating the complaints.
Despite the post-election turmoil, Jeffrey Davidow, who served as U.S. ambassador to Mexico from 1998 to 2002, said he expects Peña Nieto to be declared the country’s next president. Even with the potential irregularities, Davidow points out, he won by more than 3 million votes.
“I don’t think it’s necessarily going to rob him of legitimacy that he needs to govern Mexico,” Davidow said.
Still, the former ambassador said the election protests have made it clear that many young, well-educated, middle-class Mexicans aren’t happy with the way the country operates.
“We may see a lot more protests, we may see a lot of social activism," Davidow said, "and that will have an impact on Mexico.”
In the meantime, Peña Nieto has hired a Washington-based public relations firm to manage his image during his transition to the presidency.