MEXICO CITY – The front-running candidate in the race for Mexico's July 1 presidential election pledged on Monday to respect transparency and plurality if elected, things his Institutional Revolutionary Party was not known for during 71 years in power.
The party, known as the PRI for its Spanish acronym, was often accused of vote fraud, repression and corruption when it held Mexico's presidency without interruption from 1929 to 2000.
Enrique Pena Nieto, the PRI candidate, said his 10-point "democratic presidency" pledge is aimed at intellectuals, non-governmental groups and students, many of whom protested over the weekend against a possible return of the PRI.
A document released by Pena Nieto promises to respect human rights, free speech and the right to protest. It pledges support for fair elections, religious liberty and respect for the independence of the legislative and judiciary branches.
"We will earn the future we deserve and not bring back the past we overcame," Pena Nieto said Monday.
On Saturday, thousands of people, mostly young, marched down Mexico City's main Reforma Avenue to proclaim their rejection of the PRI and its candidate.
Critics say Pena Nieto represents the same PRI that held absolute power for 71 years. During that time, the party was regularly accused of stealing elections, crushing dissent and enriching its leaders through corruption.
Pena Nieto "is trying to gain trust and say 'we're not what many are saying we are,'" said political analyst Jose Antonio Crespo.
But Crespo added that some of the candidate's stands, including being against allowing legislators to serve multiple terms to make them accountable for their actions, don't signal a progressive point of view. Elected officials in Mexico at all levels can serve only one term in any office, which critics say makes politicians who don't have to worry about seeking a second term less beholden to voters.
Pena Nieto has for weeks enjoyed a double-digit lead over his two main competitors, Josefina Vazquez Mota of the conservative National Action and Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador of the leftist Democratic Revolution Party.