Enrique Peña Nieto will be Mexico’s next president, and
In other races, exit polls suggested that the PRI would pick up at least one more governor’s post, giving the party control of 21 of Mexico’s 31 states.
In the megalopolis of Mexico City, Miguel Angel Mancera captured 60 percent of the vote, allowing the left to continue to run one of the largest and most complex cities in the world.
Enrique Peña Nieto, a telegenic former governor of the Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, won with about 38% of the vote versus 31% for his closest challenger, leftist Andrés Manuel López Obrador, according to a partial vote count by Mexico’s election agency.
Josefina Vázquez Mota, Mexico’s first major female presidential candidate and a member of President Felipe Calderón’s National Action Party, or PAN, trailed with 26%.
The final official result might vary slightly, election officials said.
Ms. Vázquez Mota conceded defeat, but Mr. López Obrador said he would wait for final results in the coming days to decide what to do. Associates said he would likely contest the results in court, alleging that the PRI broke campaign spending limits and had favorable coverage in the media.
The return of the PRI, which ruled Mexico for 71 years through an extensive patronage system that Peruvian writer Mario Vargas Llosa dubbed “the perfect dictatorship,” marks a stunning comeback for a party that nearly fell apart after it lost its first presidential election in 2000. After a third-place showing in 2006, the party has united around its new face: Mr. Peña Nieto, a 45-year-old former state governor.
Even in victory, the party was supported by only four in 10 Mexicans. In his victory speech, Mr. Peña Nieto told cheering supporters that the PRI had been given a second chance at power, and must show voters that it can govern better than in the past, when it was dogged by corruption scandals. “We have to show that we understand Mexico has changed,” Mr. Peña Nieto said.
While the 45-year-old presents himself as part of a more-
democratic generation of leaders, many PRI governors continue to rule their states like “fiefdoms” and won’t take easily to centralized control, said Enrique Krauze, a historian and author of “Mexico: Biography of Power.” Pena Nieto also faces the threat of protests from an anti-PRI student movement and supporters of second-place finisher Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador.
“Pena Nieto has proved during these months that he has political instincts, that he’s a political animal,” Krauze said in an interview in Mexico City prior to yesterday’s balloting. “But he won’t have an easy ride now in the sense that he’ll
have to fight both inside and outside” his party.
While the PRI will control at least one house of Congress, amending the Constitution – a step required to end Pemex’s grip on oil production, as Peña Nieto promised – would require at least a two-thirds majority.
Cross-posted at Real Clear World.