04 October 2006

PRI legislators to play ball

After six years of intransigence and a humbling by the Mexican electorate, the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) finally agreed to play ball with a National Action Party (PAN) president. The PRI, which governed Mexico for 71 years, responded positively to the prospect of passing parts of president-elect Felipe Calderon's agenda.

PRI stonewalling during President Vicenete Fox's administration parked Mexico in a sort of political purgatory. Fox, being a somewhat weak politician, couldn't play hardball and the PRI, led by Roberto Madrazo, expected stalling would pay dividends and eventually return the presidency to the PRI. The PRI antics hurt Fox, but ultimately failed - the party didn't capture a single state in the presidential race and is now the third-place force in both congress and the senate. (Madrazo, of course, shoulders much of the blame for the PRI's demise.)

Calderon, an often-underestimated man, will no doubt capitalize on the PRI's weakened state - and possibly marginalize the left-leaning Democratic Revolution Party (PRD) and its allies. (He's already usurping parts of the PRD's platform.) The public's appetite for progress should also force the PRI hand.

The PRI lacks a strong ideology, meaning it will shift where needed - even if it's toward's Calderon. Survival will be its inner guide. If the party behaves as before, it could accelerate its descent into irrelevance.

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