Poll alarms Mexico's rulers

NEXT YEAR it turns 70. It has provided Mexico's presidents ever since it began. But can the mighty Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), born out of the ashes of the bloody 1910-17 revolution, cling to power into the 21st century?

Early results from three state elections at the weekend provided mixed answers.

The PRI retained the Gulf coast state of Veracruz, the country's third most populous. That could be a key swing state in the next presidential elections, in the year 2000, with 4 million votes at stake. Many Mexicans believe the likely new governor, 66-year-old Miguel Aleman Velasco, son of a former president,ran merely to test his popularity and may stand down to run for president of the nation.

That would probably pit him against another former president's son, Cuauhtemoc Cardenas, of the left-wing Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD), currently mayor of Mexico City.

But in the central state of Aguascalientes, the ruling party crashed out of power for the first time to Felipe Gonzalez, little-known until he ran for governor for the conservative National Action Party (PAN).

The PAN needed the victory to keep up momentum for the presidential race, which many commentators say the PRI could lose for the first time since it was founded. For most of those seven decades, the PRI won national, state and local elections through vote-buying or coercion. But, largely after pressure from the USA, the party was forced to open up to clean, or at least cleaner elections over the last decade.

That allowed the PAN to win six of the country's 31 states. But its momentum was slowed last month when the PRI won back one of those states, Chihuahua, proving to doubters that the long-ruling party may be ageing and infirm but it may yet have the strength to hold on to the presidency - and with it the national government - in 2000.

The PRI suffered its worst setbacks last year when, in mid-term elections, it lost its majority in the lower house for the first time and also lost the race for mayor of Mexico City - the country's second most-influential job - to PRD leader Cardenas.

The PRD ran the PRI close in Sunday's third state race, for governorship of the poverty-stricken state of Oaxaca, amid allegations of voting fraud. After early results, both parties claimed victory but most exit polls suggested PRI candidate Jose Murat was ahead.

PRD candidate Hector Sanchez disputed Murat's victory declaration and said the PRD would demand the result be declared void if fraud were proved.

Although it has not yet won a state governorship, the PRD has been chopping away at the PRI in poor southern states, where at least two guerrilla groups operate, while the strongly Catholic PAN has been spreading from its traditional power base in the north.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Dales attempts to sell British Breeze in the luxury scent task
tvReview: 'Apprentice' candidates on the verge of tears as they were ejected from the boardroom
Voices
New look: Zellweger at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday
voicesRenée Zellweger's real crime has been to age in an industry that prizes women's youth over humanity, says Amanda Hess
News
Russell Brand arriving for the book launch in East London
peopleRussell Brand cancels his book launch debate due to concerns about the make-up of the panel
Sport
Christiano Ronaldo enjoys his opening goal
champions leagueLiverpool 0 Real Madrid 3: Ronaldo and Benzema run Reds ragged to avenge thrashing from their last visit to Anfield
Arts and Entertainment
Awesome foursome: Sam Smith shows off his awards
music22-year-old confirms he is 2014’s breakout British music success
Arts and Entertainment
Sir Nicholas Serota has been a feature in the Power 100 top ten since its 2002 launch
art
News
Call me Superman: one of many unusual names chosen by Chinese students
newsChinese state TV offers advice for citizens picking a Western moniker
News
Wilko Johnson is currently on his farewell tour
people
News
Let’s pretend: KidZania in Tokyo
educationKidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day
Life and Style
CHARGE BOOSTER: Aeroplane mode doesn't sound very exciting, but it can be a (phone) hacker's friend. Turning on the option while charging your mobile will increase the speed at which your phone battery charges
techNew book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone
Arts and Entertainment
Julianne Moore and Ellen Page are starring together in civil rights drama Freeheld
film
News
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

.NET Developer - .NET & SharePoint - Coventry

£35000 - £50000 per annum + Benefits + bonus: Ampersand Consulting LLP: .NET a...

English Secondary Teacher

£110 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Cambridge: English Teacher needed for ...

Solutions Architect - Permanent - London - £70k DOE

£60000 - £70000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

General Cover Teacher

£110 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Reading: Great opportunities for Cover...

Day In a Page

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker
Renée Zellweger's real crime has been to age in an industry that prizes women's youth over humanity

'Renée Zellweger's real crime was to age'

The actress's altered appearance raised eyebrows at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday
From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Patrick Grafton-Green wonders if they can ever recapture the old magic
Thousands of teenagers to visit battlefields of the First World War in new Government scheme

Pupils to visit First World War battlefields

A new Government scheme aims to bring the the horrors of the conflict to life over the next five years
The 10 best smartphone accessories

Make the most of your mobile: 10 best smartphone accessories

Try these add-ons for everything from secret charging to making sure you never lose your keys again
Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time against Real Madrid: Was this shirt swapping the real reason?

Liverpool v Real Madrid

Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time. Was shirt swapping the real reason?
West Indies tour of India: Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Decision to pull out of India tour leaves the WICB fighting for its existence with an off-field storm building
Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?