Ex-ruling party back to power in Mexico

Ex-ruling party back to power in Mexico

Ex-ruling party back to power in Mexico

Enrique Pena Nieto (C) from Institutional Revolutionary Party greets supporters after exit polls showed him in first place in presidential elections in Mexico City. REUTERS photo

The party that ruled Mexico with an iron grip for most of the last century has sailed back into power, promising a government that will be modern, responsible and open to criticism.

Though Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) candidate Enrique Pena Nieto’s margin of victory was clear in the preliminary count from July 1 election, it was not the mandate the party had anticipated from pre-election polls that had at times shown the youthful, 45-year-old with support of more than half of Mexico’s voters.Instead, he won 38 percent support, about 7 points more than his nearest rival, according to a representative count of the ballots.

Drug wars and economy

Pena Nieto, married to a soap opera star, is the fresh new face of PRI that ran Mexico for 71 years. “We’re a new generation. There is no return to the past,” he said in his victory speech. Pena Nieto’s win marks a comeback for PRI, which ruled for seven decades until 2000 through a mixture of patronage and selective repression. The election campaign was dominated by the economy and the war on drugs. “It’s time to move on from the country we are to the Mexico we deserve and that we can be ... where every Mexican writes his own success story.”

But his top challenger, leftist candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, refused to concede, saying he would await a full count and legal review. He won roughly 31 percent of the vote, according to the preliminary count which has a margin of error 1 percentage point.

Josefina Vazquez Mota of the ruling National Action Party (PAN), a party worn out after a dozen years in power, trailed with less than 26 percent of the vote. Pena Nieto hopes to use economic reform as a springboard to ignite growth, create jobs and draw the heat out of a drug war that has killed over 55,000 people since late 2006. He has pledged to boost economic growth to about 6 percent a year and make bold economic changes, including reforms to allow more private investment in Mexico’s state-run oil industry.