Financial Times

On the campaign trail and now as president, the clean-cut and business- friendly Mr Peña Nieto has worked hard to distance himself from the PRI’s poor historical relationship with democracy and transparency, in particular under Mr Salinas, even though Mr Salinas has the ear of the new administration. Mr Peña Nieto has tried to associate himself with his party’s reputation for efficiency and effective governance.

But Duncan Wood, who heads the Mexico Institute at the Wilson Center, believes that the pact, for all its vague wording on some issues, shows Mr Peña Nieto’s determination to overcome the political gridlock that has prevented reforms from taking place.

“It is a political statement,” says Mr Wood. “And it fits with the PRI tradition of trying to build consensus.”

Critically, there remains the drugs war, which has claimed about 70,000 lives in the past six years. The new president wants to prioritise Mexicans’ safety over the killing or capture of high-profile capos. In a move that he believes will achieve this result, he has placed public security, until recently a separate ministry, under the interior ministry.

But any such cosmetic approach is likely to count for little while the killings remain so widespread. Experts admit that there are no quick fixes. As Mr Wood of the Wilson Center says: “If the levels of violence do not come down, it is going to be a big problem for the government.”