In 2000, Mexico had three large parties.
PRI - Institutional Revolutionary Party
The PRI is, as seen in my previous post, the historic ruling party. At this point in time, they'd ruled Mexico nonstop for 80 years, holding the Presidency. They are generally pragmatic, but also viewed as corrupt. Economically, the PRI has been trying to privatized and open up the Mexican economy for the past 30 years, with mixed success. Due to a change made in electoral laws, in 1997, the PRI lost their Congressional majority for the first time.
PAN - National Action Party
The oldest of the two large opposition parties, PAN has been a consistent foe of the PRI for nearly its entire existence. PAN quickly became a right-wing alternative to the PRI government. In the late 1970s the party faced a major split between its more religious and more secular wings, with the more secular wing eventually winning out. In 1989 the party won its first governorship, a few years later, its first Senator. By 2000 the party had momentum behind it.
PRD - Party of the Democratic Revolution
This party was created as a merger of the left-wing anti-PRI forces that "won" the 1988 elections. PRD had been seen as being to the left of PRI and represented the left-wing of Mexican politics. The party managed to win governorships in 1997 and 1999 and was seen as on the rise, plus, their candidate was a popular one and the party posed a real threat to the PRI.
The 1997 elections had seen the PRI retain 60% of the Senate, but, lose its majority in the House, dropping to 239 of 500 members, with the PAN and PRD being roughly equal at 121 and 125 members each.
The three candidates for the 2000 election were as follows.
Francisco Labastida - PRI
Mexican law prohibits anyone holding certain positions, such as in Cabinet, from running for President. one must be out of office for at least 6 months. As such, while another man held the post, Labastida was effectively the "incumbent" Interior Minister. Mexico has no 'Vice President', so many view this position as equal to that of VP. Having only spent a year in the office, it was quite clear Labastida was the official successor to the President.
Cuauhtemoc Cardenas - PRD
Cardenas is the same candidate who 'won' the 1988 election. He also ran (and lost) in 1994. Since then, he served as effective Mayor of Mexico City. Cardenas is a respected left-wing candidate and viewed by many as a credible alternative. Many saw this as an opportunity for him to finally be fairly elected.
Vicente Fox - PAN
Fox had served as 4 years as a state Governor, and had experience in business, working for Coca Cola. Fox had built up a reputation by this time as being pro-business, and had widespread support within the PAN. Additionally, Fox was very tall, and became known as a bit of a "cowboy", famously calling his PRI opponent a cross-dresser as a play on his name.
Polls generally suggested another PRI victory, but election night came as a shock to many.
Cardenas took 16.64% of the vote for PRD.
Labastida, the official PRI candidate, took 36.11%
Rather it was Fox, of the PAN, who won, taking 42.52% of the vote.
President Zedillo was quick to publicly congratulate Fox on his win, indicating a peaceful transition of power.
Fox's PAN, in an electoral alliance with the Green Party, managed to take 60 of the 128 seats in the Senate, compared to 51 for PRI, and 16 for PRD.
In the House, PAN took 244 seats, compared to 208 for PRI, and 65 for PRD.
While not a majority, in either house, PAN was now clearly in the drivers seat.
This is not a story with an exciting climax here. The transition from PRI to PAN was peaceful and while there were important changes made, they were not as substantial as some might expect. PRI had been slowly democratizing Mexico for decades, and PAN was thus not required to cause any major changes as, quite simply, Mexico was truly democratic by this point.
In 2006, the PRI candidate finished 3rd in the race for President. The more exciting story is who won.
Felipe Calderon, the PAN candidate, was facing Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, the PRD candidate. Obrador lead most of the night as results came in, but as the night drew to a close, Calderon pulled ahead. This was widely viewed as evidence of vote fraud.
Protests broke out in support of Obrador. In the end, evidence would suggest there was no actual organized election fraud. PAN won the most seats in both houses of Congress, and PRD finished second in both. Regardless, many felt that Obrador had won, and felt the election was 'stolen'.
The 2012 election saw PRI re-take the Presidency. Enrique Pena Nieto took 38.21% of the vote compared to 31.59% of the vote for Obrador and the PRD. Josefina Vasquez Mota for PAN only managed 25.41% of the vote. PRI had won the 2009 Congressional elections, with 241 of 500 seats.
In the 2015 House elections, the largest gains were from MORENA, a new party lead by Obrador after he left the PRD.
This leads us into the 2018 elections, which, will continue, in part 3.