Revolutionary party wins return to power in Mexico
Mexico's old guard has sailed back into power after a 12-year hiatus.
The official preliminary vote count handed a victory to Enrique Pena Nieto, whose party was long accused of ruling the country through corruption and patronage.
However, the second place candidate, leftist Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, refused to concede, saying he would wait for a full count.
The Federal Electoral Institute’s representative count said Pena Nieto, of the Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, won about 38 per cent of the vote, prompting wild cheers from a party that was voted out in 2000 after 71 autocratic years in power. Lopez Obrador, of the Democratic Revolution Party, had 31 per cent and Josefina Vazquez Mota, of the ruling National Action Party, had about 25 per cent, according to the institute.
Pena Nieto, who sought to cast himself as the leader of a new PRI, called his victory “a fiesta of democracy”.
“There is no return to the past,” said the 45-year-old, who is married to a soap opera star. “You have given our party a second chance and we will deliver results.”
He promised a government that would be democratic, modern and open to criticism. He pledged to fight organised crime and said there would be no pacts with criminals.
“My gratitude tonight is for the millions of Mexicans who voted for me,” he said. “I will work for all of Mexico...I will govern for everyone.”
Despite a clear victory, more than 60 per cent of voters did not support him. The PRI has been bolstered by voter fatigue due to a sluggish economy and the escalation of a drug war in which about 50,000 have been killed in the past six years.
University students launched a series of anti-Pena Nieto marches in the final weeks of the campaign, arguing that his party hasn’t changed since its days in power, but many say the PRI would not be able to re-impose its once near-total control even if it wanted to because of changes in society, the judiciary and Congress.
“The context has changed dramatically,” said Rodrigo Salazar, a professor at the Latin American Faculty of Social Sciences in Mexico City. “Society isn’t the same. It’s a very critical society, a very demanding society, with a strong division of powers.”