Will the world’s longest ruling party remain in power another six years? That question will be answered in Mexico this weekend with Sunday’s presidential election. A victory by opposition candidate Vicente Fox and his right wing National Action Party (PAN) could end the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI)’s 71-year run on power.
The last polls released before the election show Fox running just behind PRI candidate Francisco Labastida–but within the statistical margin of error. A third candidate, Cuauhtemoc Cardenas, of the progressive Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD) , is most favored by independent unions and peasant organizations. He is running third in the polls, but could draw enough anti-PRI votes away from Fox to hand victory to the ruling party.
By Mexican law, the campaigns ended Wednesday and the candidates can’t run advertisements, hold rallies or give interviews until the elections Sunday.
This is a race in Mexico that has adopted US style campaign tactics. In fact, President Clinton’s Dick Morris did some advising for Vicente Fox, while Stanley Greenberg— a democratic consultant —advised the PRI’s candidate Labastida.
Vicente Fox has conducted much of his campaign on a platform calling for change after what he says were seven decades of corruption, cronyism and single-party rule.
But Francisco Labastida insists the PRI he represents is a new, improved and more democratic party.
In a biting comment he wrote a few years ago, noted Mexican author Carlos Fuentes said, "Like all good brothels, the PRI has lived off the pleasures it provides— stability in this case —and despite its reputation for constant fraud."
No other party currently in power elsewhere in the world has governed as long as the PRI. If re-elected, it will beat the all-time record set by the Soviet Communist Party, which ruled for just over 74 years.
- Rohelio Gomez, National Coordinator of Alianza Civica or the Civic Alliance, Mexico’s leading civic watch group. It will be monitoring this weekend’s election.
- David Huey, the coordinator of the Global Exchange election observation mission in Mexico. They just released a report on the pre-electoral conditions in Mexico. He joins us from Mexico City.
- John Ross, an independent journalist based in Mexico City. This is his fourth Mexican presidential election. He is also author of several books on Mexico including ??Roots of Rebellion and the forthcoming book ??The War Against Oblivion: Zapatista Chronicles 1994-2000.
- Victor Clarke, Director of the National Center for Human Rights in Tijuana, Mexico and a Professor at the State University of California-Baha.