As the new face of a political party once known for corruption, Peña Nieto and his Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), completed a remarkable act of political rehabilitation, returning to power after 12 years on the sidelines.
“There’s no going back to the past,” Peña Nieto said, promising a break with the old autocratic style of his PRI forefathers, known in Mexico as the dinosaurs, in favor of a “modern, democratic, transparent” presidency.
“We are a new generation,” he said.
Projected results gave Peña Nieto roughly 38 percent of the vote, trailed by leftist Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who won 31 percent. The official government projections, based on a sample of polling stations, had a margin of error of 0.5 percent, said top election official Leonardo Valdes.
“Mexico had an exemplary election day,” said Valdes, adding that voting had proceeded “normally” despite reports of violence, cheating and polling irregularities.
More than 49 million Mexicans voted Sunday, he said — a 62 percent turnout rate and “more votes than any election in Mexican history.”
After the official projection of victory for Peña Nieto was announced, Lopez Obrador addressed his supporters but did not concede the election. “The last word has not been spoken,” the former Mexico City mayor promised.
As he spoke, he smiled and seemed serene, and not defiant. “The position we assume now is to wait, until we have all of the results,” Lopez Obrador said. “There is a legal procedure. We will scrutinize the results district by district. There is information we have that indicates something different than the official results.”
In 2006, Lopez Obrador suffered a razor thin loss to President Felipe Calderon, and he and his supporters cried foul and fraud. AMLO had himself declared “the legitimate president” of Mexico as his constituents took to the streets for weeks of protest in Mexico City.
For his part, Calderon addressed the nation and praised his fellow citizens for participating in a free and fair election “that took place in a climate of peace and tranquility in most of the country.”
Calderon said that final results would come soon, but based on the preliminary count, Peña Nieto will be the next president of Mexico. “So I congratulate him sincerely,” Calderon said, “and my government has a complete willingness to collaborate with his team in an orderly, transparent and efficient transition.”