Enrique Peña Nieto is the kind of politician who elicits screams from young women along with the more sober cheering of other supporters. He’s handsome and smooth, his hair slickly combed back in a slight puff that’s exaggerated in political cartoons and masks of his likeness.
The 45-years old politician holds a double-digit lead in most polls over Mexico’s other three presidential candidates. He represents the Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI. The party governed Mexico for 71 years — from 1929 up until 2000. It has a reputation for corruption and cronyism.
But Peña Nieto has painted himself as a leader of the new PRI — shaped by and dedicated to Mexico’s relatively new democracy.
“So he’s made a name for himself as promising things and delivering those things, and being a pretty effective governor,” said Eric Olson from the Washington-based Mexico Institute, part of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.