Mexico City: Enrique Peña Nieto is the winner of recently-concluded Mexico’s Presidential Election, the official count confirmed on Thursday.
With Peña Nieto’s victory, Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, has returned to power after a 12-year hiatus.
With just over 99 percent of the ballot boxes counted as of 9 pm, more than half of them double-checked due to the possibility of fraud, Peña Nieto had more than 38 percent of the vote. In second place was leftist Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador with more than 31 percent. That gave Peña Nieto a lead of more than 3.3 million votes.
In the meantime, the ruling-party candidate, who came third in Mexico`s Presidential Elections, yesterday complained that campaign spending violations had marred the vote, although she stopped short of challenging the legitimacy of the outcome.
The complaint by National Action Party candidate Josefina Vazquez Mota nonetheless added weight to increasing accusations that Peña Nieto benefited from vote-buying schemes. The accusations are expected to become the basis of legal challenges to the final vote count, which was being completed by electoral authorities on Thursday.
Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has long complained about excessive spending by Peña Nieto prior to Sunday`s elections, and he had challenged the preliminary vote tallies showing Peña Nieto as the winner.
The accusations began surfacing during June, but sharpened early this week as thousands of people rushed to grocery stores on the outskirts of Mexico City on Tuesday to redeem pre-paid gift cards worth about 100 pesos (USD 7.50), which many said they had been given to them by supporters of the Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, prior to Sunday`s elections.
Simply giving away such gifts is not illegal under Mexican electoral law, as long as the expense is reported to electoral authorities. But giving gifts seeking to influence votes is a crime, though is not generally viewed as grounds for overturning an election.
PRI spokesman Eduardo Sanchez said on Thursday that the gift-card scheme had been "a theatrical representation" mounted by the left. Sanchez claimed that supporters of Lopez Obrador had taken hundreds of people to the stores, dressed them in PRI T-shirts, given them gift cards, emptied store shelves to create an appearance of panic-buying, and brought TV cameras in to create the false impression the PRI had given them the cards.
(With Agency inputs)