MEXICO CITY — Mexico's President Enrique Pena Nieto said the long-time ruling party should consider changing its name after its July 1 election defeat.
The Institutional Revolutionary Party has held the presidency for all but 12 of the last 88 years. But the party known as the PRI came third in presidential elections and will be the fifth-largest force in the lower house of Congress.
Pena Nieto told the newspaper La Jornada in an interview published Friday that the PRI should change "its name and essence, because if you keep the names it won't work."
He said the elections showed "the erosion and rejection of the PRI as a brand."
The party is the fifth-largest block in the lower house of Congress with 42 of the 500 seats. It came third in the Senate, with 14 of 128 seats.
The Morena party of President-elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador and its coalition partners — the Social Encounter Party and Labor Party — will have 308 seats in the lower house and 69 in the Senate.
By picking up 22 votes in the lower house from the leftist Democratic Revolution and Citizen's Movement parties, Morena could easily get a two-thirds majority without even courting the PRI or the conservative National Action Party known as PAN, which has the second-largest block in both houses.
But irrelevance is a strange position for the PRI. Even though it had lost the majority in the lower house before, the party still had a key role in approving legislation and effectively blocking action.
In a strikingly harsh assessment of her own party, PRI president Claudia Ruiz Massieu said this week that now is "the most difficult moment in the history of our party."
"We allowed cynical and abusive people to stain our image and damage the reputation" of the PRI, she said.
The party held the presidency from its founding in 1929 to 2000, whereupon two presidents from PAN governed until 2012 before the PRI regained control.
It has changed names before. Originally known as the National Revolutionary Party, it became the Party of the Mexican Revolution in 1938 and assumed its current name in 1946.