VOA News
July 2, 2012

Preliminary results show voters in Mexico have chosen to bring the country’s once dominant political party back into power by electing Enrique Pena Nieto as their next president.

photoEnrique Pena Nieto (L), presidential candidate of the Institutional Revolutionary Party, claps next to his wife, Angelica River, after exit polls showed him in first place, Mexico City, July 1, 2012.

Election officials said late Sunday that Pena Nieto had 38 percent of the vote to beat former Mexico City mayor Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who had 31 percent.

Lopez Obrador said he was not ready to concede.

“We have to represent them as they deserve to be represented, the citizens that have confided in us,” said Obrador. “We will not, in any way, act in an irresponsible way, we will have all of the information. And when it is the right time, we will inform the people of Mexico about the result of this election.”

Pena Nieto’s Institutional Revolutionary Party ruled Mexico for 71 years until 2000, when voters elected National Action Party (PAN) candidate Vicente Fox. Outgoing President Felipe Calderon, also from PAN, followed in 2006, but his tenure has been plagued by economic stagnation and rampant drug violence.

Calderon deployed the military to fight the drug cartels shortly after he took office. More than 50,000 people have been killed in drug violence since then.

Pena Nieto said in an address to his supporters that Mexicans have voted for a change in direction, but he vowed to keep pressure on the cartels.

“The fight against crime will continue with a new strategy to reduce violence and protect the lives of Mexicans,” he said. “Let it be clear, with organized crime there will be no pacts or truce.”

Barry Carr, a longtime Mexico analyst at Australia’s Latrobe University, told VOA that many Mexicans believe Pena Nieto’s party has “always been close” to the cartels and that he is in the best position to strike a deal to stabilize the killings.

“I think that we may see, not publicly, but I think we may see an attempt – and I think this is what a lot of Mexicans want – and that we may see the scale of the killings reduced,” he said. “In other words there may be an implicit deal being done under which there will be less emphasis on pursuing militarily or by police the drug cartels, and there will be an attempt to persuade the drug cartels to reduce the level of killing both of themselves and of other individuals.”

The PAN candidate in this year’s election, Josefina Vazquez Mota, finished third in the voting.

This article first appeared on VOA News.

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