The History of the Mexican Political Parties

The history of Mexico’s political parties can be divided into various determinant moments that have marked the country’s life. Foremost is the one characterizing the first decade of the XX century, when it became evident that society wanted to confront the dictatorship of Porfirio Diaz, which lead to the Mexican Revolution and culminated in legitimizing the Partido Nacional Revolucionario, integrated by the main leaders of the movement and eventually taking the relevant political positions. It was organized by General Plutarco Elías Calles and founded on March 4, 1929. This party gained strength and integrated ideological postures from the group of militaries and generals protected by revolution’s memory for many decades.

Although later General Lázaro Cárdenas changed its name to Partido de la Revolución Mexicana in 1938, and in 1946 it was finally called Partido Revolucionario Institucional, always supported by the revolutionary ideal of protecting the joint interest of society and defend the rights of marginal classes, proven by its former motto “Democracy and Social Justice”.

Throughout time there has been a lot of criticism around the role performed by PRI in the nation’s history, however, it must be recognized that there was a very clear line in the exercise of its power, always planning towards economic growth and development, facing adverse economic and political situations in the international environment. Despite this, it can be said that its most important achievements were giving the nation an integrated body of legal norms where the citizen’s rights have been expressed in the Supreme Law, the Constitution. It has provided the opportunity to construct a political climate that is slowly becoming democratic, able to include such important movements as the workers, agricultural reforms and free commerce, starting point for the later development of public and private institutions currently representing the country’s dynamic and foreign relations.

In political theory a division has been suggested between the ideological lines followed by the political parties, thus assuming them as from the “Left” or “Right”, meaning against or in favor of an official power. It is also characterized as parties representing popular classes and their rights, ultimately taking care of certain sectors with greater political power and the interests of industrialists, bankers or foreigners.

In this sense, another representation party in Mexico’s history has been Partido Acción Nacional, which could be named as of the Right for its ideological affiliation, although at some point represented the opposition (left) to the official. For its ideological, and even religious, principles it has been recognized as being of the extreme right.

Its antecedent dates from 1935 when Partido Nacional Revolucionario was going through a crisis, the sectors of popular classes decided to support a new party lead by the legendary figure of Manuel Gómez Morín, Mexican ideologist, politician and visionary who desired to start a movement that would democratize the country.

PAN was founded on September 16, 1939, under the doctrine of Political Humanism, which can be translated into a fundamental interest in human beings, in their social and spiritual development and the utmost respect for their will, searching not only its own transcendence but also the good of all people. PAN for many decades struggled to be recognized and participate in the elections, but didn’t get any important victories until well into the 1980’s when different States had for the first time municipal presidents and state governors not belonging to the official party.

In the year 2000, there was a long process of democratic struggle, ideological conversion and social conscience that lead to what became known as political alternation; meaning, the change of power from PRI to PAN.

The Partido de la Revolución Democrática is also called from the Left, although it originated officially, it was initially formed by disagreeing members of the PRI attempting alternative political routes for leading the representation of the classes that have been traditionally marginalized in the political changes and decisions. In its proposals there is a total change of paradigm; PRD will always propose staying away from economic and institutional dependence of foreign governments. It sees in the economic models imposed from developed countries and their financing organisms a process that deteriorates the autonomy of Mexico’s will, and struggles to construct not only economic models that respond to its own needs, but also to participation forms that include marginalized groups as the popular classes, so that the government can truly represent the majority.

In the 90’s, Engineer Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas represented an unprecedented leadership in PRD, achieving the integration of his struggle to other leftist parties like the Partido Mexicano Socialista and the Partido Socialista Unificado, among others. It culminated in the creation of Partido de la Revolución Democrática on May 5, 1989.

PRD has been one of the greatest critics of the governments in power, and has signaled as points of interest the development of governments that are representative of the popular classes; inclusive and tolerant, attacking the vices of power like corruption and the traffic of influences. It has had very important conquests in elections; it has for many years represented the government of Mexico City, and is represented in both Chambers, being one of the main political forces in Congress.

Many other efforts of organization and convocation have fortunately culminated in the creation of parties that provide voters with options, and sometimes decided to integrate or created alliances to the political forces of greater presence in Congress, for being able to carry out proposals that receive the citizens’ support. Thus, the mechanics followed by the recently created parties has been to first achieve the recognition of the Instituto Federal Electoral, for having presence in Congress, and to conform alliances with more important parties, originating a true political debate and prompting the discussion of topics that had been formerly set aside, as in the case of gender equality, the inclusion of minorities in the political process and the discussion of laws, the respect for human rights, indigenous issues, etc.

These parties currently represent an ideological alternative for the citizens by always proposing new topics, as in the case of Partido Convergencia por la Democracia, Partido del Trabajo, Partido Nueva Alianza, Alternativa Social Demócrata and Partido Verde Ecologista.

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