The ousted authoritarian government of Mexico – PRI – may be back

When Mexico’s long-ruling party was ousted by voters 12 years ago, giddy celebrants hailed the event as something like the fall of the Berlin Wall.

For seven decades, the Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, had governed virtually unchallenged, aided by election trickery, a well-honed ability to buy off potential troublemakers and, when that didn’t work, an iron fist. Its historic loss in 2000, and its tumble to third place six years later, led some to even imagine a Mexico without the PRI.

Now the PRI is on the verge of an epic comeback. Polls show the party’s presidential candidate, Enrique Peña Nieto, holding a double-digit lead over three rivals ahead of the July 1 vote. The party could also end up with majorities in both houses of Congress for the first time in 15 years.

The PRI’s march back from humiliation owes as much to widespread anger over skyrocketing drug violence and an anemic job market as to any lessons learned.

But the possibility of a PRI triumph raises a question now at the heart of the race: What kind of PRI would govern — a cleaned-up, “new PRI” retooled for a modernizing Mexico, or the opaque monolith of yore, with its dark intrigues, rampant graft and authoritarian streak?

 

Keep readingThe fall and rise of Mexico’s PRI

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