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Friday, 1 December, 2000, 16:31 GMT
Vicente Fox: The road ahead
Fox supporters celebrate the July elections
Mexicans are getting ready for the party
By Maria Elena Navas in Mexico

Vicente Fox's campaign slogan was: "It's time for change". Millions of Mexicans voted for it.

The former businessman promised change from the party which had governed the country since 1929, changes to the rigid structures which have led to anti-democratic practices, and change to the inequalities and loopholes in Mexican law.

Rebel commander Marcos
The conflict in Chiapas is still unresolved
Surmounting the challenges ahead will not be easy, and Mr Fox himself points out that "nobody expects miracles".

Outgoing President Ernesto Zedillo bequeaths him a healthy economic situation.

But he also leaves behind many unresolved issues, such as insecurity, corruption, an armed conflict in the country's most marginalised region and a great divide in the distribution of wealth (25% of the population lives in extreme poverty).

"We need to re-invent the government, reduce its costs so that the money can be returned to society," says Mr Fox.

Mexican potential

The economy is on his side. Mexico has overcome many of the problems which faced the last administration six years ago, and analysts say Mr Fox is likely to continue Mr Zedillo's economic model.

His major challenges lie in other fields, such as overcoming inequality and providing health and education for all.

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Tackling poverty: A high priority
Political analyst Roberto Blum of the Development Research Centre (Cidac) says Mexico needs a "political pact" between its citizens and government to adapt to new global realities.

He says the pact should establish clear limits for the government's actions and increase the individual's spheres of liberty.

"If Fox is able to begin a real transformation of the education system and provide the population with a basic health service, Mexico could become a major player in the new globalised economy," says Mr Blum.

'Lack of experience'

But the new president and his National Action Party (PAN) does not have a majority in congress and that could make things hard for him.

Rogelio Hernandez, a professor at the Colegio de Mexico, does not think the new president will be able to deliver.

"Mr Fox does not have the necessary political experience to carry out his promises, because he doesn't have enough time, there are 70 years of history to deal with and because he does not seem to have the ability to negotiate with the other parties in congress."

"If Mr Fox wants to achieve something important his party must build itself into a true political option, and the president will need sharp negotiating skills which he hasn't shown to possess," adds Mr Hernandez.

But the Mexican people are optimistic about the possibility of change, however difficult and remote it may seem.

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See also:

01 Dec 00 | Americas
Profile: Vicente Fox
01 Dec 00 | Americas
Mexico's Fox to take office
23 Nov 00 | Americas
Mexico's Fox names key ministers
02 Jul 00 | Americas
End of era for all-powerful party
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