Mexico’s Institutional Revolutionary party (PRI) is poised to regain the power it lost 12 years ago after seven decades in charge of the country. The official quick count of a large sample of polling stations announced late on Sunday gave the PRI’s candidate, Enrique Peña Nieto, around 38% of the vote and a lead of around seven percentage points over his nearest rival. “This Sunday Mexico won”, Peña Nieto said at his party’s headquarters in the capital to the strains of a popular mariachi song, accompanied by his soap opera star wife and children. “Mexico voted for change with direction,” he added. During his speech, the slick, telegenic former governor of the country’s most populous state was at pains to address fears that the return of the PRI would mean a return to the periodic authoritarianism, corruption and corporatist hubris that had characterised the party’s political hegemony for most of the last century. “Mine will be a democratic presidency. We are a new generation and there will not be a return to the past,” he said. “In today’s plural and democratic Mexico everybody has a place.”
The candidate also had words of recognition for the students who shook up the electoral campaign with a movement that rejected his candidacy as a step back in the country’s fledgling democracy, and focused attention on alleged bias in his favour by the mass media.
Peña Nieto spoke shortly after his nearest rival in the quick count, Andrés Manuel López Obrador of the leftwing Party of Democratic Revolution (PRD), told his supporters he would wait until he had “all the information” before stating his formal position. The count gave him around 31% of the vote. “The last word has not been spoken,” López Obrador said.