Teaching Comparative Government and Politics

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

PRI return

In spite of problems, the PRI seems set for a comeback in Mexico.

Mexico's vanquished ruling party stages a comeback
PRI candidate Enrique Pena Nieto starts the 90-day campaign, set by electoral law, with more than a 10-point lead in most polls over Josefina Vazquez Mota of the now-governing National Action Party, or PAN. Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador of the leftist Democratic Revolution Party, known as the PRD, trails in third.

Though the PRI lost the presidency in 2000 after ruling 71 years with an iron fist, it has maintained the political machinery of eight decades, not to mention two-thirds of Mexico's 31 governors.

The hope for democratic change that swept the PRI's opponents into the presidency has evaporated. People are weary of President Felipe Calderon's bloody assault on organized crime after 47,000 deaths and many are nostalgic for a party that, for all its faults, brought Mexico into the modern era without the coups, revolutions and civil wars that plagued the rest of Latin America.

The party has been fast out of the blocks this election season with the charismatic, Kennedy-handsome Pena Nieto, 45, who carries the message of a "new PRI" that has learned from its mistakes. Party leaders say it has a whole new slate of young candidates who are more democratic and didn't work under the old regime…

But the comeback has been helped by the shortcomings of rival parties as much as a yearning for the return of the PRI…

The PRI had been dubbed "the perfect dictatorship" by Nobel literature laureate Mario Vargas Llosa because everything was conducted under the guise of democratic elections, in which a president could only serve a single six-year term.

"The PRI is a party that was born without ideology," said historian Lorenzo Meyer at the College of Mexico. "It has an authoritarian mentality ... Its principle objective is to have power and to enjoy it, but with some intelligence, not like an animal."…

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