Mexico's political earthquake

A stunning defeat for the PRI

It’s like the Berlin Wall falling down,” said one Mexican official about his country’s July 2 election. “But the PRI lasted longer than the wall.” A lot longer. In power for 71 years, the oxymoronically named Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, has had the longest continuous rule of any political group in the world. Under the all-pervasive PRI, party, government and presidency had become virtually synonymous; unions, industries and many other aspects of Mexican society fell under its control. But on July 2 its presidential candidate, Francisco Labastida, a prim, rather colorless bureaucrat, was decisively defeated by the charismatic Vicente Fox of the National Action Party (PAN). Fox’s call for change had caught fire with the Mexican people, who were fed up with the corruption and economic mismanagement—not to mention the assassinations and massacres—that had marred the PRI’s seven-decade tenure.


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