MEXICO CITY – On July 1, Mexico will in all likelihood vote the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), which ruled the country for seven decades, back into power. The PRI’s candidate, Enrique Peña Nieto, holds an insurmountable lead late in the campaign. Many Mexicans, as well as the country’s foreign friends, fear that this turn of events heralds a return to the authoritarian, corrupt, and discredited past that Mexico had left behind when the National Action Party’s candidate, Vicente Fox, won the presidency in 2000.
As someone who contributed to the PRI’s defeat, I would prefer a different victor this year: an independent candidate, a center-left social democrat, or a center-right leader running on the best parts of Fox’s and outgoing President Felipe Calderón’s record (while repudiating Calderón’s bloody and futile war of choice against Mexico’s drug lords). But I reject the notion that a PRI victory would automatically restore the status quo ante, as if Mexico, its links to the world, and the PRI itself had stood still throughout the last 12 years.