Under his administration (1994–2000), President Ernesto Zedillo replaced Pronasol, the targeted poverty alleviation programme created by his predecessor, with his own programme, Progresa. Pronasol had come under severe attack as a politicised federal welfare programme intended to generate votes for the PRI. In contrast, the Zedillo administration insisted that Progresa was a genuine poverty-alleviation programme devoid of any political agenda. The purpose of this article is to assess whether Zedillo's claim is valid. To do so, I build a statistical model with the aim of identifying the factors that may have influenced the reach of Progresa in 1999, an important year of electoral preparation for the July 2000 elections. The picture that emerges is not entirely clear-cut. On the one hand, poverty indicators played a key role in determining who should benefit from the programme. On the other hand, Progresa also displayed a political edge, revealing that, in certain respects, the executive and the PRI continued to resort to old tricks in an attempt to alter electoral results.