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How Convenient Is the Rapprochement Between the PRI and Andrés Manuel López Obrador?

The so-called “PRIMOR” (PRI-Morena) scares the Mexican right, which could see its only chance of defeating Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s party in 2024 destroyed .

Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador and Alejandro Moreno

Photo: TW-lopezobrador_, TW-alitomoreno

LatinAmerican Post | Luis Angel Hernández Liborio

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Leer en español: ¿Qué tan conveniente es el acercamiento entre el PRI y Andrés Manuel López Obrador?

One of the great wishes of Andrés Manuel López Obrador has come true: the National Guard has formally come under the Ministry of National Defense (SEDENA) and thus has lost its civilian character. Surprisingly, the opposition Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) has supported the president's initiative, which has allowed him to consolidate it. The implications of this possible alliance have turned Mexico's political-electoral climate upside down.

The Rise and Fall of the PRI

The PRI is the party that took Mexico into the 20th century, born as the National Revolutionary Party, it managed to put an end to the struggle between factions that left the country in ruin during the Mexican Revolution. The party managed to negotiate the different interests that existed at that time, creating a system that lasted until the end of the century. Mexico owes the PRI its rapid growth and mid-century welfare state. However, it also owes PRI the great crises of the 1980s and 1990s, in addition to political repression, limited freedom of expression, and a party dictatorship that Vargas Llosa called "the perfect dictatorship."

With the economic opening of the 1990s, democratic institutions and a forced electoral opening also arrived, which, added to the population's weariness, allowed the PRI to be defeated in the 2000 elections. After two governments of the National Action Party (PAN), The "new" PRI returned to power in 2012 with Enrique Peña Nieto and a group of young politicians who, for the most part, are now in jail or under investigation, including Peña Nieto himself. In 2018, the PRI sank to third place with 16% of the vote to AMLO's 53%, the beginning of its decline.

Morena, "the New PRI"

The PRI has been a victim of itself, the character who managed to take advantage of that rupture is López Obrador. With his victory in 2018, dozens of politicians, including high-profile ones, jumped from all parties to the National Regeneration Movement (Morena), the new official party. This led to Morena being known as "the new PRI", including the negative aspects of that comparison, emphasizing that the president himself and a large part of his cabinet are emanated from the PRI.

With this power, AMLO has taken advantage, in 2018 Morena won his first 5 states, including the capital, and since then he has expanded his domain over another 17 that he has wrested from the PRI and the PAN. Of 19 states that the PRI had in 2015, now it only has 3; 2 of which could lose in 2023 in the run-up to the 2024 presidential elections.

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Goes to Mexico

With its fall, the PRI has become the third force in Mexico after Morena and the PAN. In 2018, the PRI was in "denial" and did not believe in Morena's power, so it declined to join the PAN-led coalition. Even the PRI campaign was based on attacking the PAN candidate. This fact benefited AMLO, what some analysts then called the "PRIMOR" (PRI - Morena), although both parties denied it.

After its catastrophic defeat, the PRI decided to join the PAN and the PRD to create an opposition coalition called "Va por México", which tries to create a balance against Morena's power. However, although in 2021 they subtracted power from the official party in congress, it was not enough, since they could not avoid serious electoral defeats where the PRI lost its great bastions. The PRI had refused for 4 years to be an "accomplice" of the AMLO government, during the attempt at electrical reform by the president of the opposition party it remained faithful to the coalition, which AMLO described as "treason to the fatherland".

So what is leading the PRI to approach Morena? The answer can be found in the governor of the state of Campeche, Layda Sansores, who since her arrival in government began with the dissemination of audios that compromise the national president of the PRI, Alejandro Moreno, who was governor of the same state. Moreno accused the government of persecution and of wanting to pressure him to serve its interests, which is why for months he remained firm in his position of continuing with the "Va por México" agenda.

This changed a few days ago when he unilaterally announced that the PRI would support the presidential initiative to give SEDENA control of the National Guard, going against his coalition. At the same time, Layda Sansores announced the suspension of the broadcast of Alejandro Moreno's audios. Immediately, the PAN and the PRD announced the temporary suspension of the coalition, leaving its future in limbo, affirming that the "PRIMOR" is not an urban legend.

Who Benefits the "PRIMOR"?

The rapprochement of Morena and the PRI, the so-called "PRIMOR", directly benefits the Obradorista government that seeks to consolidate its latest actions, such as that of the National Guard, in addition to outlining its candidates for the 2023 state elections and the presidential election of 2024. For the PRI it represents the opportunity to stay alive, in 2023 it could be left alone with a governed state and as the third force in congress, a catastrophic scenario.

But the great achievement of "PRIMOR", at least for López Obrador, would be to destroy the "Va por México" alliance that represents its only threat towards 2024, without the PRI the alliance is blurred and, apparently, it is headed for defeat. Even so, this achievement would not be free, the negative image of the PRI could take its toll on voters who would hesitate to give their vote to Morena if it has the PRI as an ally, a fact that could capitalize on "Va por México". The truth is that the PRI needs more from Morena than Morena needs from the PRI.