Mexico’s Industrial Revolutionary Party (PRI) scored major electoral victories in three gubernatorial races this weekend. The results are seen by many as a harbinger for the country’s presidential election a year from now.PRI won a landslide victory in Mexico State, the country’s most populous, where the highly touted Eruviel Avila beat the National Action Party (PAN) candidate by a margin of more than 40 percentage points.
The PRI also swept the gubernatorial elections in the Pacific state of Nayarit and the northern border state of Coahuila.
The victories represent a significant comeback for the PRI, which ruled Mexico for more than 70 years until they were defeated by the PAN in the 2000 presidential election. Considered an out of touch “dinosaur” by its critics and the Mexican intelligentsia, the PRI surprised many this weekend by capturing the youth vote in Mexico State, which is comprised primarily of poor Mexico City suburbs.
A key factor driving the PRI victories is Mexico’s bloody — and seemingly futile — drug war, which has claimed 40,000 lives since PAN President Felipe Calderon came to power in 2006. Calderon faces rising anger over his administration’s failure to battle corruption, money laundering and a failing criminal justice system amid the rising drug-related violence.
Calderon’s bid to push through security reforms in advance of the 2012 presidential elections have so far failed to pass due to legislative gridlock. His attempts to improve eduction, boost investment and reform labour laws have also fallen flat.
PAN leaders now fear that the PRI will be able to leverage voter discontent into a broader political comeback in 2012.
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