After only 40 days in office, President Trump’s approval number is at 44%, the lowest of any U.S. president in history that early into his administration. But you know who would kill for a number like that? Enrique Peña Nieto, the Mexican president.
Peña Nieto’s approval number is at 17%, and it’s not even the lowest of his presidency. It even increased from the 12% he had in December of last year. That means that not even half of the people that voted for him in 2012 approve of his presidency.
Why is he so unpopular?
1.- He’s the “Gaffer” in Chief
Let’s just say that he doesn’t have the reputation of being the sharpest tool in the shed. He often misspeaks in public and doesn’t appear to have enough control over the issues during interviews.
Some of his famous gaffes include not remembering his first wife’s cause of death during an interview and not being able to name his three favorite books while giving a press conference in the most important Mexican book fair. There’s even a website with a countdown since his last mental gaffe.
2.- He belongs to the PRI
The Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) is the oldest political party in Mexico. The party ruled the country uninterruptedly for 71 straight years, from 1929 to 2000. During that time, they controlled the presidency, both chambers of Congress, State Legislatures and Governorships.
PRI’s control over the country was so overwhelming that in 1990, Mario Vargas Llosa, the Peruvian Nobel Prize laureate for literature, called the Mexican government “the perfect dictatorship.”
So, naturally, most Mexicans were not happy when PRI regained the presidency after losing the previous two elections.
3.- The Mexican currency has fallen dramatically during his term
When Peña Nieto assumed power in December of 2012, one US dollar was worth $13 Mexican pesos. Today, a dollar is worth more than $20 pesos. That has caused consumer prices to go up while the average salary has not increased enough.
4.- Gas prices have skyrocketed in the past few months
The price of gas is one of the indicators that influences public opinion the most in Mexico. So it certainly didn’t help when his administration removed the subsidies that the government had in place to control the price nationwide. The price in Mexico is $3.4 dollars per gallon, compared to $2.3 dollars in the US.
To put it into perspective, in Mexico, the price of one gallon of gasoline equals 84% of the daily minimum salary.
5.- He was elected president with only 38% of the vote
As you can see, Peña Nieto wasn’t a very popular presidential candidate to begin with. He didn’t have either a strong message nor an exited base of supporters. What he had was the support of the most influential media organization, weak opponents and lots of money to spend.
About the author: Mauricio Holguin is a Mexican journalism student currently at The Washington Center in D.C. He's been a staff writer for Shout! since January 2017.