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Mexico's PRI party 'dinosaurs' roar back to life

Sunday's gubernatorial victory for PRI, which ran Mexico for 71 years with a heavy hand before being ousted in 2000, makes it a clear favorite ahead of 2012 presidential polls.

Eruviel Avila, the Institutional Revolutionary Party's (PRI) gubernatorial candidate in the state of Mexico, casts his vote in Ecatepec, Mexico, on Sunday, July 3, 2011. Avila heads into the closely watched race with a 30 percentage point. The PRI, that once ruled Mexico for 71 years, hopes for a commanding victory to create momentum going into the July 2012 national election.

Marco Ugarte/AP

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The political party that once ruled Mexico for 71 years and became known for its repressive tactics scored a major victory Sunday that may make it unstoppable in next year's presidential race.

The Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), which claims to have shed its old authoritarian ways, clobbered its rivals in gubernatorial elections in Mexico state, the most populous state in the country, with a 40 percentage point lead.

The landslide victory is widely seen as a show of force for the party and a boost to outgoing PRI Mexico state Gov. Enrique Pena Nieto, who has designs on the presidency.

Polls had only forecast a 30-point advantage for PRI candidate Eruviel Avila. But he took 62.5 percent of a state known for its poor, overpopulated Mexico City suburbs, and which holds the largest number of registered voters.

Mexico’s ruling National Action Party (PAN) placed a dismal 12.5 percent and the left-leaning Democratic Revolution Party (PRD) 21 percent, according to preliminary results. The PRI also did well in Coahuila and Nayarit, the two other states up for grabs.

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