In Mexico, there has been mixed reaction to the state-of-the nation speech President Vicente Fox gave before the Mexican Congress on Sunday. The president's ability to promote consensus in the months ahead could determine the overall success of his presidency.
The day after President Fox delivered his second state-of-the-nation address, pundits and politicians were picking over his statements and looking to what comes next. The Reforma newspaper provided a front-page analysis of the Fox speech, questioning some of the figures used by the president.
In his speech, Mr. Fox said 263,000 new jobs had been created over the past 20 months of his presidency. But Reforma says independent sources indicate more than 500,000 jobs were lost over that period. The president said the Mexican Gross Domestic Product grew 12 percent in the past year, when figured in U.S. dollars, but Reforma says when figured in Mexican pesos, it is has not grown at all.
Political opponents, for the most part, have criticized Mr. Fox for failing to provide anything new. Marti Batres, a deputy with the leftist Party of the Democratic Revolution, says the president needs to pay attention to his legislative agenda.
He says Mr. Fox needs to work more with Congress because much of his program remains stalled there. He says some 500 legislative initiatives are frozen at the moment and that the president needs to work with the Congress to move forward.
Beatrice Paredes, president of the Executive Committee of the Congress and a member of the Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, sees an opportunity for such cooperation.
She says the president's speech was reasonable and that he should follow up by reducing friction with opposition parties and by seeking consensus.
In the days before the speech Mr. Fox seemed to be moving precisely in that direction, reaching agreement with PRI leaders to tone down rhetoric and to seek consensus on his energy reform proposal.
Political analysts say the president will have to work hard at winning votes in the Congress since his own National Action Party lacks a majority. With almost a third of his six-year term at an end, President Fox says he is only beginning to work for change, but many Mexicans are growing impatient.
Mr. Fox, whose election two years ago ended the 71-year-rule of the PRI, says his government has advanced democracy, human rights and economic stability. More than half of respondents to post-speech polls agreed that the president has brought change, but poll results in general show that most people agreed with the president's statement that much more needs to be done.