the regular presidential succession to present the new president as a leader who would respond to problems in a fresh and energetic way. Salinas moved dynamically against some of the most notorious examples of corruption, established an important new social program funded in large part by huge sums of money raised from the sale of state firms, liberalized the economy considerably, and negotiated a free trade pact with the United States. The economy began to grow again after several sluggish years. The Salinas government also liberalized politics somewhat, by enacting a new electoral law that provided for a new electoral roll and new electoral identity cards. The president also overturned some state and local elections when evidence of fraud and opposition protests were overwhelming. The regime also took advantage of the fact that, as weakened as it was after 1988, it still had the capacity to mobilize voters and even to use electoral "alchemy" where necessary to stay in power.
Whether the regime could maintain social peace with this degree of "problem management" was, however, open to question. As skillful as Salinas and his associates had been in their first four years, it was not inevitable that this would be enough. The conditions in which the traditional factors operated had changed dramatically by the 1990s, and it was possible that the very factors that had allowed one party to remain in power for six decades would now threaten that hegemony. The next chapter will examine the altered conditions of the 1990s and ask what the prospects are for political stability and democracy in Mexico.