Mexico election: Presidential candidates end campaigns

Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador )left), Josefina Vazquez Mota (centre), Enrique Pena Nieto (right) Lopez Obrador, Vazquez Mota and Pena Nieto make their final election push

Campaiging has ended in Mexico's presidential election which could see the PRI, the party which ruled for most of the 20th Century, return to power.

PRI candidate Enrique Pena Nieto, who has a big lead in the polls, held a final rally in his home state.

Rivals Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador of the PRD and Josefina Vazquez Mota of the governing PAN also addressed thousands of their supporters.

Mexicans will also be voting on Sunday for Congress and some state governors.

Wednesday's rallies capped a long, expensive and at times bitter election campaign, which officially began three months ago.

For Mr Pena Nieto of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) and Mr Lopez Obrador of the Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD), it was the official end of an electoral push that dates back many more months.

Both made their intention to run clear last year.

Ms Vazquez Mota of the National Action Party (PAN) and outsider Gabriel Quadri de la Torre of the New Alliance (PANAL) joined the race more recently.

The candidates

  • Josefina Vazquez Mota of the governing National Action Party (PAN)
  • Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador of the Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD), runner-up in the last presidential election
  • Enrique Pena Nieto of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) which governed for 71 years until 2000
  • Gabriel Quadri de la Torre of the New Alliance Party, closely associated with the powerful teachers' union

Mr Pena Nieto, who has maintained a double-digit lead according to most opinion polls, addressed supporters in Toluca, capital of the State of Mexico where he is the former governor.

"My priority will be to tackle the poverty in our country at its roots," he said.

Mr Pena Nieto has presented himself as the new face of the PRI, which governed Mexico uninterrupted for 71 years before being defeated in 2000.

Economy

"We are going to win the presidency again," Mr Lopez Obrador told his supporters in Mexico City's central square, the Zocalo.

The PRD candidate, a former mayor of the capital, lost the 2006 election by less than 1%.

Ms Vazquez Mota told her supporters at a final rally in Guadalajara that Mr Pena Nieto and Mr Lopez Obrador were two faces of an old system, saying that she offered "the Mexico of the future".

If the election result is close, it could increase the likelihood of demonstrations, correspondents say.

A new student protest movement emerged during the campaign, which was overwhelmingly anti-PRI.

Their rallies have injected a degree of uncertainty into the electoral battle.

But the consensus of opinion is that it will take something very unexpected to prevent the PRI from returning to the presidency, says the BBC's Will Grant in Mexico City.

Among the key issues for voters is the drug violence that has led to more than 50,000 deaths.

But for many Mexicans, boosting economic growth is more important.

President Calderon has struggled to implement many of his planned reforms as his party, the PAN, lacks a majority in Congress.

Voters will also be electing a new senate and lower house.

Some states could also change hands as new governors are chosen, and voters in the capital will be electing a new mayor.

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