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Mexicans hope new government brings better times

Jennifer Collins Jul 2, 2012

Mexicans hope new government brings better times

Jennifer Collins Jul 2, 2012

Tess Vigeland: Mexico has picked a new president following elections over the weekend. Enrique Peña Nieto got about 38 percent of the vote. Second-placed candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has refused to concede.

But Nieto’s victory marks the return to power of the Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI. It ruled Mexico for 70 years before being ousted in 2000 amid allegations of corruption. This time though, Mexico’s people are hoping the can bring stability and some measure of economic hope.

Jennifer Collins reports from Mexico City.

Jennifer Collins: Lulu Catarino is 22 years old. She runs a sweet stand and lives in Mexico City. And her favorite clothes come from:

Lulu Catarino: El Hollister.

Hollister, owned by the American retailer Abercrombie & Fitch.

Catarino: Because it’s comfortable. Because it’s not too ugly.

But a Hollister T-shirt can cost her week’s wages. Enrique Peña Nieto won election, promising that Mexicans will earn more under his administration. And it’s for that reason Catarino voted for him.

Catarino: He can give us more work, more security. We’re hoping for real change right now with Enrique Peña.

Joy Langston: You know Mexicans love consumer goods.

Joy Langston is a professor at Mexico City’s Center for Research and Teaching in Economics.

Langston: Love consumer durables. Love clothes. Love TVs. Love everything. You know there’s nothing really radically different between a Mexican family, middle-class family, and an American middle-class family.

Almost two-thirds of Mexican imports come from the U.S., so better wages could create more demand. But it’s those low wages that have also helped Mexico improve its competitiveness against a country like China. Mexico City economics professor Duncan Wood says Enrique Pena Nieto will have to walk a very fine line.

Duncan Wood: If there’s going to be much greater involvement by the federal government in how much you’re paid for a particular task then I think there would be severe resistance from industry for that.

The last thing the country wants is for anything to interrupt the flow of exports, three quarters of which go to the U.S.

In Mexico City, I’m Jennifer Collins for Marketplace.

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