Prsident Vicente Fox
On July 2, 2000, Vicente Fox Quesada of the opposition Alliance for Change coalition, mainly headed by the National Action Party (PAN), was elected president, in what are considered to have been the freest and fairest elections in Mexico's history. Fox began his 6-year term on December 1. His victory ended the Institutional Revolutionary Party's (PRI) 71-year hold on the presidency.
Fox proposed major changes in the relationship between the individual and the state as well as between the individual states and the federal government. The President named a diverse cabinet and vowed to maintain a prudent fiscal policy, emphasize job creation, promote more legal emigration into the United States, initiate negotiations with the rebels in the southern state of Chiapas, and move ahead with constitutional reforms, such as the reelection of members of Congress.
The July 2, 2000 elections marked the first time since the 1910 Mexican Revolution that the opposition defeated the party in government. Election officials declared Fox the winner with 43% of the vote, followed by PRI candidate Francisco Labastida with 36%, and Cuauhtemoc Cardenas of the Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD) with 17%. Despite some isolated incidents of irregularities and problems, there was no evidence of systematic attempts to manipulate the elections or their results, and critics concluded that the irregularities that occurred did not alter the outcome of the presidential vote. Civic organizations fielded more than 80,000 trained electoral observers; foreigners--many from the United States--were invited to witness the process, and numerous independent "quick count" operations and exit polls validated the official vote tabulation.
Under President Fox, the executive branch became more accountable, transparent, and citizen-centered. In 2003, Mexico passed its first-ever Civil Service Law, which introduced an on-line application system and competence-based hiring. The Fox administration's good government agenda also included the initiation of government services via Internet, the development of citizen charters that set standards for service delivery, and the reduction in the percentage of public servants working in administrative jobs from one out of two to one out of four. One of President Fox's (2000-2006) most important reforms was the passage and implementation of freedom of information (FOIA) laws. President Fox also highlighted the need for modernization of Mexico's criminal justice system, including the introduction of oral trials. Judicial reforms stalled at the federal level during the Fox years.
Vicente Fox was born in Mexico City, July 2, 1942, the second of nine children born to farmer José Luis Fox, now deceased, and Mercedes Quesada. As a child, together with his family he moved to the San Cristóbal ranch in the municipality of San Francisco del Rincón, in the state of Guanajuato, where he would play with the children of the communal land owners, share with them their childhood and, in his own words, "see close up one of the evils that unnecessarily afflicted our country: poverty".
Vicente Fox is friendly, respectful, straightforward, and honest. Life on the farm taught him to value the loyalty of people and appreciate Mexico's enormous potential to become in every way a successful nation. "I know the importance of opportunity -he says firmly-. I grew up on the land with the children of peasants and the only thing that sets me apart from my childhood friends are the opportunities I had and they did not".
He studied Business Administration at the Mexico City campus of the Ibero-American University. Looking back, Vicente Fox remembers how his provincial appearance, "like a ranchhand", contrasted with that of his classmates. He went on to study for a Diploma in Upper Management, taught by professors from Harvard University Business School.
In 1964 he joined Coca-Cola de México as a route supervisor. From aboard a delivery truck he had the opportunity to see for himself Mexico's most remote corners. Thanks to his efforts, he was promoted to President for Mexico and Latin America, the youngest person in the company to occupy such a position. With his accumulated experience, he decided to return to Guanajuato to participate actively in business, politics, society, and education, to improve life in his state.
He joined the National Action Party (PAN) in the 1980s, encouraged by the late Manuel J. Clouthier. In 1988, he was elected Federal Deputy for the Third District of León, Guanajuato. While in Congress he paid special attention to agricultural matters. At that time, he also wrote for several national and state newspapers. In 1991 he ran in the election for governor of the state of Guanajuato. In 1995, he stood again, this time in the extraordinary elections for governor, and won by a significant majority.
During his administration, Vicente Fox always gave clear account both of the state's finances and his personal assets. He made Guanajuato the fifth largest economy in Mexico and in light of the excellent results of his government, was chosen by the Alliance for Change (PAN-PVEM) as its candidate to the presidency of Mexico in the elections to be held in the year 2000.
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