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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

VIEW FROM MEXICO: Mexico Enjoys a New Democratic Prosperity

It is only natural that, as neighbors, Mexico and the United States are interested in developments in each other's country. Several years ago, some in the United States questioned whether Mexico could expand economically at a pace that would allow for faster job growth. Still others questioned the ability of Mexico to complete its transformation to a full democracy. However, over the past few years, Mexico has transformed itself economically and politically.

Mexico's economy has transformed itself beyond even the most optimistic forecasts. Gross domestic product growth is expected to average 5 percent over the 1996-2000 period. On the democratic front, Mexico's electoral system has come of age. The reforms implemented over the past five years have created a system that is independent of the government, fair to the candidates and ensures the integrity of each ballot.

Since 1994, no major electoral result has been seriously contested. There have been gubernatorial elections in all the 31 states and in Mexico City. Today, 11 states are governed by the opposition. In 1988, there were none. The lower house of Congress is now in opposition hands.

Now, Mexico is looking forward to the next challenge, the presidential election on July 2. With six candidates, it is the most contested campaign in Mexico's recent history.

Mexicans also will elect 500 federal deputies to the lower house of Congress, 128 senators, three governors and hundreds of local representatives and mayors. Candidates from 11 official parties will compete. Nearly 115,000 polling sites will be installed throughout the country, and nearly 1 million people will be involved in organizing the election, either as polling officials or representatives for political parties. Citizen participation is expected to be heavy, with an expected voter turnout of 70 percent or more.

To increase integrity and credibility in Mexico's electoral system, the independent Federal Electoral Institute has issued open invitations to foreign observers to monitor the pre-electoral process, the elections themselves and the resolution of any controversies that may arise thereafter. These are the features of a full-fledged democracy.

Because of political reforms promoted by President Ernesto Zedillo in 1996, Mexico leveled the playing field for party competition and instituted strict campaign financing regulations and rules for equal access to mass media by all parties. No other president in Mexico's recent history has the democratic record of Zedillo. Regardless of who is elected in July, he will likely be remembered as the person responsible for a new democratic era in Mexican politics.

Jesus F. Reyes-Heroles is Mexico's ambassador to the United States. He contributed this comment to the Los Angeles Times.