Mexico's Moment: The 2012 Presidential Transition


Mexico’s 2012 presidential transition tested the durability of the country’s democracy. Outgoing president Felipe Calderón ceded power to longtime political opponents. The new president, Enrique Peña Nieto, had to gather information on government programs, select a Cabinet and top aides, and set priorities—with no guarantee of significant cooperation from his predecessor’s administration. But to the surprise of some Mexicans, Calderón ordered his staff to cooperate by gathering and organizing information to brief their incoming counterparts. The process the two leaders put in place ensured an effective handover and helped pave the way for a landmark political deal early in Peña Nieto’s term. The 2012 transition, only the second between opposing parties in eight decades, followed steps other countries could find helpful for ensuring the continuity of core government functions during transfers of power.


Robert Joyce drafted this case study based on interviews conducted in Mexico City in April

2015. Case published in September, 2015.

president's office
presidential transition
civil service
risk planning
election year spending
political business cycle
Focus Area(s)
Centers of Government
Critical Tasks
Preparation of policy papers and choices
Strategic planning
Core Challenge
Credibility (trust)
Country of Reform
Case Studies
Robert Joyce