The Rise of Enrique Peña Nieto and Return of the PRI

The prospect of the return of the Partido Revolucionario Institucional (PRI) is no longer a novelty; in fact, most observers of Mexican politics now assume that the party is a shoe-in for electoral victory in July 2012. Whether this is accurate remains to be seen, but it is truly remarkable how the party has recovered from the shock of losing the presidency in 2000 and then the disastrous performance in the presidential election of 2006, in which the PRI was relegated to third place in the polls. Much of this recovery is due to the fact that it has adopted a strategic approach to regaining power since 2006, seeking unity among its members and elite factions and incorporating the opinions of the most astute of its senior figures, among them former president Carlos Salinas de Gortari.

However, in addition to the reawakening of the PRI’s political machine, a large part of the organization’s recent success is due to the discovery and promotion of Governor Enrique Peña Nieto, who has proven incredibly popular with Mexican voters and with the nation´s media outlets. The rise of Peña Nieto and the return of the PRI as Mexico’s dominant political party cannot be studied in isolation from each other. Both are important factors in defining the shape of the 2012 election campaign.

Duncan Wood