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Pri party rules mexico { July 5 2000 }

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Mexico's PRI in disarray after election rout
July 5, 2000
Web posted at: 9:49 p.m. EDT (0149 GMT)

From staff and wire reports

MEXICO CITY -- While Mexico's president-elect Vicente Fox met with international correspondents and Mexican businessmen to discuss the future, the talk across town at headquarters for the Revolutionary Institutional Party (PRI) was of the past.

More specifically, it was about how the PRI could salvage the party from debacle after its first presidential election defeat in 71 years.

The PRI has long been split between so-called technocrats, led by President Ernesto Zedillo, and the old guard, dubbed "dinosaurs," but Sunday's presidential election victory by Fox of the center-right National Action Party (PAN) turned subdued conflict into a pitched battle.

PRI President Dulce Maria Sauri -- identified with PRI presidential nominee Francisco Labastida -- tendered her resignation after the vote but has been asked to stay on until the dispute between the competing factions is resolved.

"The attitude (the) old dinosaurs have is what prevented the PRI from renewing, and made us lose the election," said Fausto Felix of the technocratic faction.

Discontent with Zedillo
Some want to kick Zedillo out of the party, saying he is responsible for the defeat and that he betrayed the party by recognizing Fox's victory on election night.

The Mexican newspaper Reforma predicted the dinosaurs, led by Tabasco Gov. Roberto Madrazo and former Interior Minister Manuel Bartlett, will come out on top.

Madrazo, who had lost the party's historic first primary in November, was seen as the top choice to lead the PRI. He enlisted the support of a half-dozen state governors and a long list of local party leaders, Reforma said.

But on Wednesday, PRI political secretary Emilio Gamboa Patron told a local radio station that the top tier of the PRI and Zedillo did not endorse Madrazo as the next party leader when they met on Monday.

"The governor (Madrazo) thought that then and there he would be praised or selected to be among party directors, but no way," Gamboa said in a radio interview.

Governors and congressional leaders will meet for the next couple of weeks to choose a new name for the party and define a new mission. Officials insist that the party -- which until a decade ago had never lost even a governorship -- will remain a major force in Mexican politics.

New name to be chosen
Three days after the historic election, PRI members are coming out of their shock and reacting -- sometimes violently -- to the realization that their 71 years in power soon will be over.

The shock resulted in violence Wednesday in the suburb of Chimalhuacan, where party members broke windows and turned over tables at the electoral board offices because they refused to recognize the opposition's victory.

But while some say the death knell is sounding for the PRI, others caution that might be premature.

Jesus Silva Herzog, a former Mexico ambassador to the United States and the losing PRI mayoral candidate in Mexico City, said, "the PRI received 13 million votes, which is a very important number."

"So I certainly believe," Silva Herzog said, that with "transforming the party -- looking for a more clear ideological and political definition, and getting closer to the people -- the PRI has a very important role to play in Mexico's future."

CNN Mexico City Bureau Chief Harris Whitbeck, The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.

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