Party leadership elections were supposed to give a much-awaited chance for Mexico's Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) to revitalize itself after its humilitating defeat in the 2000 presidential vote. Instead, the Feb. 24 leadership contest turned into a bitter fight as the two main contenders accused each other of ballot stuffing. Former Tabasco Governor Roberto Madrazo's razor-thin edge over the PRI's Congressional leader Beatriz Paredes threatens to cause a crippling split in the party, which ruled for 71 years before Vicente Fox won the presidency.
PRI discord is also bad news for Fox. He had hoped for a clear result so he could engage in serious policy talks with the party. Fox needs its support for key legislative moves but currently has to deal with several feuding PRI factions in Congress. EDITED BY Edited by Rose Brady