Egypt and Mexico elect new presidents, face uphill battles

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Two countries have elected new presidents over the weekend: Egypt and Mexico.

For Egypt, it’s out with the old and in with the new. On the other hand, our southern neighbor is experiencing a blast from the past.

Starting with Egypt, Mohamed Morsi of the Freedom and Justice Party narrowly defeated his opponent Ahmed Shafik, former prime minister under Hosni Mubarak, with 51.7 percent of the vote.

Morsi represents a big change from the previous presidents of Egypt. The democratically elected, American-educated, Muslim Brother with no military background is a far cry from the military dictators of the past.

Maintaining Egypt’s democratic revolution in light of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces continued intervention in Egyptian politics will be a central struggle for Morsi, in addition to uniting the country’s liberals, Islamists and Christians.

Morsi was actually the FJP’s second choice for president and entered the race in April after the first candidate was disqualified.

During the race he was known for being a reserved and cautious candidate, but at his inauguration ceremony in Tahrir Square on Saturday, Morsi opened his jacket to show he wore no bulletproof vest.

His policies thus far include giving state workers a 15 percent bonus and increasing assistance to Egyptians in poverty. He has also pledged to appoint a Christian and a woman to the vice-president positions in the effort to downplay fears that he will put Egypt on the path to becoming an Islamic state.

Turning to Mexico, Enrique Pena Nieto of the Institutional Revolutionary Party received 38 percent of the vote in Sunday's election, returning his party to the presidency after 12 years of defeat.

In second place came leftist Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador with about 32 percent of the vote. Lopez Obrador has challenged the results of the election and claimed Pena Nieto violated campaign regulations and benefited from biased media coverage.

The PRI had been the ruling party in Mexico from 1929 to 2000 and was known for its authoritarian style and corrupt politicians.

Twelve years have brought much change to Mexico and the country is struggling with a major war against drug cartels and a weak economy.

Under the PRI, democracy was traded for security. Many Mexicans are hoping Pena Nieto can return PRI stability to the country without corruption and end to the war that has claimed around 50,000 lives.

Pena Nieto has promised to abandon the PRI’s old policy of cutting deals with the drug cartels, and instead has vowed to target the cartels with “well-aimed, precision strikes” and increase cooperation with the U.S.

"There is no return to the past," Pena Nieto said. "You have given our party a second chance and we will deliver results."