Mexico Elections: PRI Candidate Enrique Pena Nieto Claims Victory

Early count gives Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) candidate 38% of vote and signals return to power for party that ruled Mexico for most of 20th century.

Mexico’s old rulers claimed victory in a presidential election on Sunday, ending 12 years in opposition after a campaign dominated by a sputtering economy and rampant drug violence. Photo: Arturo Alfaro Galán/Flickr

Institutional Revolutionary Party, the party that ruled Mexico for most of the 20th century, claimed victory in a presidential election on Sunday as a senior election official said the party’s candidate, Enrique Pena Nieto, held an irreversible lead over his rivals, reports MSN BC.

The official quick count of a large sample of polling stations announced late on Sunday gave the PRI’s candidate, Enrique Peña Nieto, around 38% of the vote and a lead of around seven percentage points over his nearest rival.

“This Sunday Mexico won”, Peña Nieto “Mine will be a democratic presidency. We are a new generation and there will not be a return to the past,” he said. “In today’s plural and democratic Mexico everybody has a place.” said at his party’s headquarters in the capital to the strains of a popular mariachi song, accompanied by his soap opera star wife and children.

“Mexico voted for change with direction,” he said. “Mine will be a democratic presidency. We are a new generation and there will not be a return to the past,” Peña Nieto said. “In today’s plural and democratic Mexico everybody has a place.”

Outgoing President Felipe Calderon has congratulated Pena Nieto and promised to work with him during the transition to his inauguration in December, reports BBC.

“I sincerely hope for the smooth running of the next government for the benefit of all Mexicans,” Mr Calderon said, in a televised address.

Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, running for the leftist Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD) is in second place with about 33% of the vote. However, he refused to concede, saying he would await a full count and legal review.

“The last word hasn’t been spoken yet,” he said. “We simply do not have all the facts. We are lacking the legality of the electoral process.”

“We have information that indicates something different from what they’re saying officially,” he said. “We’re not going to act in an irresponsible manner.”

Lopez Obrador in 2006 paralyzed Mexico City streets with hundreds of thousands of supporters when he narrowly lost to President Felipe Calderon, according to The Huff Post.

Josefina Vazquez Mota, the candidate of the governing National Action Party (PAN) had already accepted defeat.

The PRI ruled as a single partyfor 71 years and is known for coercion and corruption, but also for building Mexico’s institutions and social services.

It was often accused of stealing elections, most infamously the 1988 presidential vote. But PRI governments were also known for keeping a lid on organized crime, whose battles with government and each other under Calderon have taken more than 50,000 lives and traumatized the country.

Pena Nieto, a youthful-looking former governor of the State of Mexico, has established himself as the new face of the PRI with the aid of favorable media coverage led by Mexico’s most powerful broadcaster, Televisa.

Officials said the voting was largely peaceful, but reported some initial problems as a number of stations opened later than planned.

Mexicans were also electing 500 deputies, 128 senators, six state governors, the head of government in the Federal District (which includes Mexico City) and local governments.

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