Just super. PRI making a comeback in Mexico?

As if Mexico didn’t have enough to worry about these days. (And, by association, the United States as well.) Mexicans go to the polls this weekend to select new leaders, and if the early polling numbers are any indication, we could be seeing a return to a not terribly grand old tradition.

Twelve years after the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) lost power, polls show its candidate, Enrique Pena Nieto, heading into the vote with a double-digit lead over his opponents, despite lingering doubts about the party.

Tainted by corruption, electoral fraud and occasional bouts of brutal authoritarianism during its 71 years in power, the PRI was voted out in 2000. But it has bounced back, helped by the economic malaise and a tide of lawlessness that have plagued Mexico under the conservative National Action Party, or PAN…

After ending the PRI’s rule in 2000, the PAN raised hopes of a new dawn for democracy in Mexico. But years of weak growth and the death of more than 55,000 people in drug-related killings since 2007 have eroded its popularity.

The PRI’s history is a fairly epic tale which could have come straight out of a Godfather movie script. Their amazing ability to win elections with more than 70% of the vote for decade after decade was truly spectacular, what with the 141% turnout they could usually manage. People were frequently even more afraid of the government than they were of the gangs and tales of official abuse and violence against citizens were common.

The PRI claims that they changed, cleaned house and moved forward to an open, honest democratic future. Of course, that’s a lot easier to say than to actually do. But it looks like they may get the chance to prove it starting tonight if Nieto pulls out a win. Everything old is new again, eh?