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Latin America, Mexico

The PRI returns to power in Mexico

The Institutional Revolutionary Party ran Mexico for 71 years though a combination of patronage, ballot-box stuffing and selective repression, a governing method incompatible with the 21st century democracy that Mexico aspires to be.

And yet when it came time to vote on July 1, the PRI’s Enrique Pena Nieto was the hands-down winner.

In the previous presidential election Felipe Calderon from the conservative National Action Party (PAN) defeated Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador from the leftist Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD) by the narrowest of margins. This time Lopez Obrador came in a second to Pena Nieto by a margin too wide to contest — at least when it came to cast ballots.

Pena Nieto’s final campaign rally in Toluca, capital of the State of Mexico, the country’s most populous state located west of Mexico City, was a noisy and boisterous affair. I described it as colorful (see EPN final rally in Toluca, Mexico), though my colleague Maria Isabel Sanchez noted that it was full of acarreados, people who were bussed in for the event. There certainly were plenty of pro-PRI union members and people from other groups affiliated with the party.

Maria Isabel Sanchez + Carlos Hamann

With Maria Isabel Sanchez at Pena Nieto’s Toluca rally

The daring Sanchez, who writes in Spanish, traveled to Veracruz to report on life in the port city as the bitter fight among drug gangs to control the port city. i translated her story (see Veracruz-pre-voteViolence).

Pena Nieto scored a slam-dunk victory at the ballot box (see  EPNWins-exitpolls-VancouverSun), but outside of party loyalists there were no street parties celebrating the PRI’s return to power.

Cleaning crew with EPN masks

Cleaning crew with Pena Nieto masks

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About Carlos Hamann

Washington D.C.-based writer and editor

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