Mexico City: The ex-rulers in Mexico, the Institutional Revolutionary Party, or the PRI, are all set to return to power as early official results from Sunday's election indicate its candidate Enrique Peña Nieto has won the Presidential Election.
Peña Nieto won 38 percent support, about 7 points more than his nearest rival, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who has refused to concede, saying he would await a full count and legal review.
Meanwhile, the 45-year-old former state governor thanked Mexicans for giving his party a second chance, pledging his administration would have a "new way of governing".
In his victory speech, Peña Nieto said: "We're a new generation. There is no return to the past...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."
The PRI ruled Mexico with an iron grip for most of the last century.
Lopez Obrador in 2006 paralysed Mexico City streets with hundreds of thousands of supporters when he narrowly lost to President Felipe Calderon.
This time, only about 700 gathered at his campaign rally and he cancelled plans to proceed to the Zocalo, the main square he filled as recently as Wednesday.
"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."
The PRI for 71 years ruled as a single party 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 organised crime, whose battles with government and each other under Calderon have taken more than 50,000 lives and traumatised the country.
Peña Nieto in his victory speech vowed he won't make pacts with organised crime, but rather will focus on curbing violence.
The vote on Sunday went smoothly with the usual protests at polling places that ran out of ballots and a few arrests for small cases of alleged bribery or tampering of ballots. Josefina Vazquez Mota of the ruling National Party, Mexico's first woman candidate for a major party, conceded almost immediately after the polls closed and exit surveys showed her trailing in third place. The preliminary count gave her roughly 26 percent.
Her party, the PAN, unseated the PRI after 71 years in 2000 with the victory of Vicente Fox, who won more than 40 percent of vote, and again with Calderon in 2006, who won by a half percentage point over Lopez Obrador.
Results from the polling stations trickled in all night and will continue. The official results will be announced next weekend.
At the PRI headquarters in Mexico City, a party atmosphere broke out with supporters in red dancing to norteno music. The vote count came in slowly and it was too early to say if the PRI would retake at least one of the two houses of Congress and some of the governorships nationwide.
Peña Nieto, who is married to a soap opera star, also has been dogged by allegations that he overspent his USD 330 million campaign funding limit and has received favourable coverage from Mexico television giant Televisa.
University students launched a series of anti-Peña Nieto marches in the final weeks of the campaign, arguing that his party hasn't changed since its days in power.
Peña Nieto praised their protests on Sunday as a positive sign of the democracy and said he, too, wants to see Mexico change.
"You have given our party a second chance," he said. "We will honour that with results."
(With Agency inputs)
First Published: Monday, July 02, 2012, 10:13