The PRI says it is a political party "of today." Its candidate, Enrique Peña Nieto, hails from a younger, more modern generation that cares deeply about democracy, the party says, yet with the PRI's backing he can leverage the party's vast political experience and efficiency to solve the country's deepest economic and security problems.
It's unclear how many Mexicans are buying this message, but polls show Mr. Peña Nieto is out front with a comfortable two-digit advantage, according to most polls, in part because they are voting against the status quo.
Twelve years after its democratic transition, Mexicans are disillusioned with the state of democracy, which many say they believed would have deepened by now. Weak institutions, monopolies that cripple competition and economic growth, and corruption still dominate. Among the top concerns is violence, including the 50,000-plus drug-related deaths in six years.
“There is a kind of longing for the 'good old days,' when there was corruption but not as much violence,” says Lorenzo Meyer, a noted historian in Mexico. “[The PRI was] corrupt but not that inefficient. [Mexicans are saying] 'let us return to good old days of efficient authoritarianism.'"
Across Latin America, the left – from the fiery nationalism of Venezuela to the more market-friendly left of Brazil – dominates. Even in places where leftists are not in power, they’re still a force to be reckoned with.