- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 6, 2000

SALTILLO, Mexico The coattails of Mexican President-elect Vicente Fox's landslide election victory spread throughout the midsize border state of Coahuila.

Here, Mr. Fox's National Action Party (PAN) won the two directly elected Senate seats and four of the seven seats in the Chamber of Deputies, the lower house of Congress.

It was the first time the PAN had won a statewide race in Coahuila.

Coahuila, across the Rio Grande from Texas, was a microcosm of this unprecedented defeat for the ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), which lost the presidency for the first time ever.

In an explosion of revelry, thousands of jubilant PAN supporters clogged the broad Avenida Venustiana Carranza in this state capital city on Sunday night.

They filled the streets with honking horns, waving flags and flashes of Mr. Fox's trademark two-fingered sign representing his campaign slogan, "Ya." Roughly translated, it means "right now."

"This is another revolution; not with bullets, but with ballots," said Rosendo Villarreal, president of the PAN state executive committee. "There's never been anyone who had the strength to overturn the regime."

One of the victorious Senate candidates was Luis Rico Samaniego, a mechanical engineer, who said at the celebration that projections gave him a 10-point lead over his PRI opponent.

"I think the people realized that Mexico needed a profound change, not just speeches. We have had more than 100 years between Porfirio Diaz and the PRI," he said, referring to the dictator forced out by the Mexican revolution in 1911. "Throughout the 20th century, we have had a dictatorship of one form or another."

Besides Coahuila, the PAN carried 16 other states in the Senate races, the PRI finished first in 13 and the Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD) in two, Baja California Sur and Michoacan, the home state of PRD presidential candidate Cuauhtemoc Cardenas.

The PAN victory in Coahuila was especially dramatic because just 10 months ago, Gov. Enrique Martinez y Martinez of the PRI defeated an alliance of the PAN and three other parties with 62 percent of the vote.

Marco Martinez, political columnist for Vanguardia, Saltillo's leading daily, called the state a "political enigma," explaining that PAN has controlled the three major cities of Saltillo, Torreon and Monclova, but had never won statewide until Sunday.

What happened?

"The PRI was overconfident, and didn't do any campaigning here," he said.

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