After a brief hiatus, Mexicans seeking relief from drug war violence have opted for the Institutional Revolutionary Party, despite its history of coercion and corruption.
On Sunday, PRI candidate Enrique Peña Nieto declared himself the victor in Mexico’s presidential elections as preliminary results were counted.
Having been ousted 12 years ago in favor of the National Action Party (PAN), the PRI returns with promises of a modern, open and more transparent government.
The PRI was predicted to win the presidential election for the first time since 2000, when PAN candidate Vicente Fox put an end to its 71-year reign.
Nieto, the 45-year-old former governor of Mexico’s most populous state, has already faced accusations of overspending his $330 million campaign funding limit.
“We are a new generation, there is no return to the past,” Nieto said in his victory speech. “My administration will put its vision into the future … we will build democracy.”
Critics of the PRI suggest that this victory is, in fact, an end to democracy in Mexico, a short-lived experiment that failed. For them, this is a return to the old guard that ruled the country as a dictatorship under a veil of democratic practices.
The most prominent issue in the election was the struggle to subdue powerful drug cartels. Outgoing President Felipe Calderon, elected in 2006, vowed to put an end to the power of the cartels and over 50,000 people have been killed in the ensuing violence.
Under the PRI, there was a sense that violence was contained. Now innocent people are being gunned down on their way to work. Mexicans are desperate for someone to put an end to the perpetual fear they are living in and many believe that Nieto will be the one to do this.
However, in his victory speech, Nieto vowed that he would not make agreements or pacts with the cartels. Instead, he plans to curb the violence through law enforcement.
Nieto’s top challenger, left-wing candidate Andrés Manuel López Obrador, won 31 percent of the vote, falling seven points behind the PRI candidate. Obrador has refused to concede the election, and will await official results, which will be released next weekend.