Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Mexico's PRI Party 'Dinosaurs' Roar Back to Life

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Mexico's PRI Party 'Dinosaurs' Roar Back to Life

Article excerpt

Sunday's gubernatorial victory for PRI, which ran Mexico for 71 years with a heavy hand before being ousted in 2000, makes it a clear favorite ahead of 2012 presidential polls.

The political party that once ruled Mexico for 71 years and became known for its repressive tactics scored a major victory Sunday that may make it unstoppable in next year's presidential race.

The Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), which claims to have shed its old authoritarian ways, clobbered its rivals in gubernatorial elections in Mexico state, the most populous state in the country, with a 40 percentage point lead.

The landslide victory is widely seen as a show of force for the party and a boost to outgoing PRI Mexico state Gov. Enrique Pena Nieto, who has designs on the presidency.

Polls had only forecast a 30-point advantage for PRI candidate Eruviel Avila. But he took 62.5 percent of a state known for its poor, overpopulated Mexico City suburbs, and which holds the largest number of registered voters.

Mexico's ruling National Action Party (PAN) placed a dismal 12.5 percent and the left-leaning Democratic Revolution Party (PRD) 21 percent, according to preliminary results. The PRI also did well in Coahuila and Nayarit, the two other states up for grabs.

PRI critics worry that Sunday's election gives the party a major boost ahead of the July 2012 presidential poll.

'Dinosaurs' return

"I am more afraid of these Mexican dinosaurs than of those that existed millions of years ago. One day you will understand why," warns writer and journalist Guadalupe Loaeza in a July 5 column in Reforma.

Considered by critics as extinct and out-of-touch "dinosaurs" after loosing power in 2000 and placing third in 2006, the party ironically captured the youth vote in Mexico state, according to some media reports. The state's telegenic governor and his soap opera star wife may have had something to do with it.

The party has also managed to galvanize its strong local base, even after voters turned on them in national elections. However, critics claim that voter base has been bought off with handouts of canned foods and free T-shirts.

Cesar Camacho, the PRI candidate's electoral authority representative, says: "The criticism is absolutely unfounded. …

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