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Chronology of Mexico's transition to democracy

MEXICO CITY, Mexico (Reuters) -- The inauguration on Friday of President-elect Vicente Fox's government, the first in seven decades not formed by the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), marks the end of Mexico's long journey to democracy.

The following is a chronology of key moments in the journey and the first handover of government to the opposition in Mexico's modern history:

1910 - The Mexican Revolution is launched after 3-1/2 decades of dictatorship under Porfirio Diaz.

1929 - The PRI, then called the National Revolutionary Party (PRN), is set up by Gen. Plutarco Elias Calles as a way to unite fractious political forces and warlords.

1935 - The PRN absorbs peasants' groups and trade unions, beginning omnipresent domination of Mexican society.

1938 - President Lazaro Cardenas nationalizes nation's oil wells.

1939 - Conservative National Action Party (PAN) -- now led by Fox -- is established as a docile opposition force. It competes in 1940 presidential election.

1968 - Troops massacre hundreds of students demanding democracy in a Mexico City plaza. Government shoves incident under the carpet, plays down death toll.

1976 - President Luis Echeverria devalues the peso three months before handing over power to Jose Lopez Portillo, igniting the first of recurrent economic crises that mark virtually all subsequent presidential handovers.

1982 - Lopez Portillo, who had sworn to defend the peso "like a dog," devalues again in his last year in office. He blames the banks and nationalizes the banking system. The next president, Miguel de la Madrid, inherits an economic crisis.

- In aftermath of banks nationalization, the pro-business PAN becomes a more vocal opposition party under Manuel "El Maquio" Clouthier, who dies in a mysterious car crash a year after 1988 presidential vote.

1987 - PRI members Cuauhtemoc Cardenas and Porfirio Munoz Ledo desert, to later form left-leaning National Democratic Front, which is later renamed the Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD).

1988 - PRI candidate Carlos Salinas wins presidential election after allegations of massive vote fraud, including a suspicious crash of vote-counting computer, supervised by the Interior Ministry. De la Madrid hands over power but not before devaluing the currency again.

1989 - The PRI loses monopoly of state governorships when it allows PAN to win a gubernatorial election in Baja California state.

1991 - PAN is allowed to win the governorship of Guanajuato state after strong protests against vote fraud.

1992 - PAN wins Chihuahua state. Congress approves first of a series of electoral reforms, stipulating that voter identity cards must include photographs to combat fraud.

1993 - Federal Electoral Institute is formed by citizens and politicians, but under federal government control.

1994 - Zapatista pro-Indian guerrilla movement launches uprising on New Year's Day in poor southern state of Chiapas. PRI presidential candidate Luis Donaldo Colosio is assassinated in Tijuana during a campaign rally after criticizing Mexico's concentration of power.

- Outgoing President Ernesto Zedillo takes over candidacy and wins in a relatively clean ballot. Shortly afterward, new PRI secretary general Jose Francisco Ruiz Massieu is shot and killed in Mexico City. Salinas' brother Raul is eventually charged and convicted for the murder.

- Two weeks after taking office in December, Zedillo is forced to devalue the peso, triggering Mexico's worst economic crisis since the 1930s. The banking system, privatized by Salinas, has needed about $100 billion in government rescue funds since 1995 to save it from total collapse.

1995 - Raul Salinas is arrested and Carlos Salinas flees into self-imposed exile.

- PAN retains governorships of Baja California and Guanajuato, and wins state of Jalisco.

1996 - Passage of more electoral reforms makes the Federal Electoral Institute an independent entity.

1997 - PRI, for first time, loses control of lower house in a congressional election. It remains largest party in Chamber of Deputies and retains its absolute majority in Senate.

- Cardenas and his PRD win mayorship of Mexico City in capital's first democratic election. Mexico City rulers, or "regents," were previously appointed by president. PAN wins the state of Nuevo Leon and Queretaro.

1998 - PAN defeats PRI in gubernatorial election in state of Aguascalientes, but loses Chihuahua. Leftist coalitions including PRD win Baja California Sur, Zacatecas and Tlaxcala.

1999 - Zedillo abandons presidential prerogative of handpicking his successor and calls PRI's first ever presidential primary, which is won by former interior minister Francisco Labastida.

2000 - PAN presidential candidate Fox becomes first opposition challenger in Mexico's modern history to defeat PRI.

Copyright 2000 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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