Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Institutional Revolutionary Party
The Institutional Revolutionary Party (Spanish: Partido Revolucionario Institucional or PRI) is a Mexican political party that wielded hegemonic power in the country – under a succession of names – for more than 70 years. It was the final result of all the political accommodations after the Mexican Revolution, in which most of the victorious combatants finally agreed to join under its umbrella.
The party, under its three different names, held every major political position for six decades. Only the odd federal deputy (diputado) or senator (senador) from other parties ever got elected, and the first state governor not to come from its ranks was not elected until 1989 (Ernesto Ruffo Appel of the PAN in Baja California).
The party had acquired a reputation for dishonesty to the extent that it is an open secret, and while this was admitted (to a degree) by some of its affiliates, its supporters maintained that the role of the party was crucial in the modernization of Mexico. The party was described by some scholars as a "state party", a term which captures both the non-competitive history and character of the party itself and the inextricable connection between the party and the Mexican state for much of the 20th century.
Perhaps Mexico's most popular 20th-century president Lázaro Cárdenas, most renowned for expropriating the oil interests of U.S. and European petroleum companies in the run-up to WW2, came from the ranks of the PRI. He was a person of leftist ideas who nationalized different industries and provided many social institutions dear to the Mexican people. Another famous PRI president, loved by some, and despised by many, Carlos Salinas de Gortari privatized many industries, including banks and roads, and also negotiated NAFTA.
The PRI was heavily criticized for using the Mexican flag colors in its logo (something considered not unreasonable in many countries, but frowned upon in Mexico). This is expressly forbidden by the law, but was flaunted with many excuses, perhaps the most imaginative being that the colours were transparent but the background behind was that of the Mexican flag.
The importance of the PRI in mexican politics should not be underestimated: many top politicians in other parties (most notably PRD's Andrés Manuel López Obrador and Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas) come from its ranks, as well as state governors (usually PRI members who left after losing the candidacy to be picked up by an opossing party and winning the election).
In 2000 the PRI lost for the first time in the presidential elections to Vicente Fox. Many considered this event would mark the party's downfall. Yet, after many restructuring, the party has been able to make an impressive recovery, winning the greatest number of seats (almost the majority) in the Congress in 2003. It also won several governorships of states in the 2004 elections. Some analysts even consider that if the party manages to stay united in postulating one candidate for the 2006 presidential elections, the PRI might be able to win.
In recent years the following have been key events in the history of the PRI:
- 1988: Amidst stronger than ever suspicions of electoral fraud, Carlos Salinas de Gortari won the presidential election
- 1994: For the first time in decades a high profile politician was murdered: PRI presidential candidate Luis Donaldo Colosio was shot during a campaign event
- 2000: For the first time since its inception, the PRI lost the presidency to an opposition candidate, Vicente Fox Quesada of the PAN.
- 2003: In midterm elections, the PRI was practically wiped off the map in the Federal District – only one borough mayor (jefe delegacional) out of 16, and no first-past-the-post members of the city assembly – but recouped some significant losses on the state level (most notably, the governorship of former PAN stronghold Nuevo León). It also remained the largest single party in both chambers of the federal congress.
- 2004: On August 6, in two controversial and closely-contested elections in Oaxaca and Tijuana, PRI candidates Ulises Ruiz Ortiz and Jorge Hank Rhon won the races for the governorship and mayoralty respectively. The PAN had held control of the mayor's office in Tijuana for 15 years.
- PRI website (in Spanish)
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