A Mexican political coalition that attempted to replace the dictatorship of Porfirio Díaz with a liberal democracy, but which did not act quickly enough for some of its constituents, and dissolved into the chaos of Mexico's 1910-1921 revolution. The anti-reeelectionist party can be considered a precursor of the PRI which held power from 1921 until the election of Vicente Fox in 2000.
By 1908, Porfirio Diaz had been dictator of Mexico for 32 years, repeatedly staging elections to keep himself in power. By then, Mexican power and wealth had become concentrated in the hands of Diaz, a few of his cronies, and the American businesses which they served.
Díaz began the events that would bring about his downfall that year, when he told American reporter James Creelman,
"I welcome an opposition party in the Mexican Republic. If it appears, I will regard it as a blessing, not as an evil. And if it can develop power, not to exploit but to govern, I will stand by it, support it, advise it and forget myself in the successful inauguration of complete democratic government in the country."
"It is enough for me that I have seen Mexico rise among the
peaceful and useful nations. I have no desire to continue in the
Presidency. This nation is ready for her ultimate life of freedom."1
When Creelman's article appeared in Pearson's Magazine, some people took this statement at face value. In particular, Francisco Madero published La Sucesión Presidencial de 1910, attacking the regime and calling for honest elections. The only real issue for Mexico's 1910 election appeared to be whether Diaz would be reelected or not. Over the next two years, Madero and other anti-reelectionists such as José María Pino Suárez, Francisco Vázquez Gomez, and Venustiano Carranza built their party. Madero and Vázquez Gomez were nominated the party's candidates on April 16, 1910.
But all along, Díaz intended to hold onto power, as Madero discovered in an audience with the dictator shortly before the nomination became public. Madero reponded with a media campaign that demonstrated widespread support for the Anti-reelectionists. Eventually, Díaz had had enough, and had Madero arrested on June 4, 1910. The arrests of thousands of anti-reelectionists were to follow. The election on July 8 had predictable results. Although Madero attempted to have the election results invalidated adter he was released in July, the courts declared Díaz the winner on October 4. Madero fled to the United States after releasing the Plan of San Luis Potosí which declared the election a sham and himself president. November 10, 1910, the day Madero made an abortive attempt to re-enter Mexico in force, is considered the start of the Mexican Revolution.
The initial phase of the revolution showed how far Diaz's power had eroded. Anti-reelectionist forces, supported by the forces of Francisco ("Pancho") Villa, Emiliano Zapata, and a new rebel army under Pascual Orozco, quickly converged on the capital, and Diaz eventually ademitted his defeat on May 17, 1911 with the Treaty of Ciudad Juárez.
It was now Madero's turn to make a mistake. He resigned as Interim President in order to campaign and appointed Francisco León de la Barra to the post. De la Barra's cabinet stifled all attemtps at land reform demanded by the socialists. By the time Madero was officially elected on November 6, Zapata had deserted him, and his coaltion lay in ruins. Madero failed to recognize this, considering his election a triumph of democratic values. But by this time, Zapata had released the Plan of Ayala which declared Orozco president. In early 1912, Zapata, Villa, and Orozco converged on the capital, but were smashed in late 1912 by the forces of General Victoriano Huerta.
However, Madero had earned the hatred of American Ambassador Henry Lane Wilson, a catspaw of the American businesses who had profited under Diaz. Madero went so far as to secretly ask President-elect Woodrow Wilson to remove the ambassador. In the meantime, Ambassador Wilson, Huerta, and General Manuel Mondragon had been plotting Madero's overthrow. Madero's brother reported the conspiracy to him, but the President refused to believe it. (President) Wilson's inaguration was a long way off (March 4, 1913) and the conspirators acted before then. On February 9, 1913, Huerta and Mondragon staged an artillery exchange in Mexico City, designed to show that Madero was incapable of controlling the capital. Them Madero fell into their trap: with General Lauro Villar wounded in the fighting, Madero appointed Huerta as chief of the armed forces. On February 18, Huerta had Madero arrested, and arranged to have him shot on February 22, with the tacit support of the ambassador. Ambassador Wilson was forced to resign when his part in the conspiracy became public, but as to whether he had the support of the Taft administration, who knows for sure?
With the assassination of Madero, the anti-reelectionist coalition was undeniably dead. The remaining factions fought against each other until 1921 when General Alvaro Obregon assumed control.