Mexico's Enrique Pena Nieto 'wins' presidential poll

Enrique Pena Nieto told supporters there would be no return to the past

Mexico's old ruling party, the PRI, is set to return to power as early official results indicate its candidate Enrique Pena Nieto has won the presidential election.

Mr Pena Nieto, 45, is on about 37%, several points ahead of Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who has not conceded.

Thousands of police were on duty for the vote, amid fears of intimidation from drug gangs.

Mexicans were also electing a new congress and some state governors.

'New face'

Analysis

After what was, by and large, an orderly and peaceful vote, the partial result from the country's electoral authorities appears to confirm that it was Mr Pena Nieto's night.

As soon as the traditional speech from incumbent President Felipe Calderon was over - in which he called Mr Pena Nieto the president-elect - the candidate addressed the crowds of his jubilant supporters.

He spoke of reconciliation, of governing for all Mexicans and said that "Mexico had won" no less than three times.

But with his nearest challenger, Mr Lopez Obrador, waiting for all the results before accepting defeat, Mr Pena Nieto will have a tough time winning over his critics.

Celebrations at the headquarters of the PRI (Institutional Revolutionary Party) started after the polls closed.

Mr Pena Nieto declared: "We all won in this election. Mexico won."

"This is just the start of the work we have before us."

With his soap-actress wife Angelica Rivera by his side, he thanked Mexican voters for giving the PRI a second chance, saying his administration would have a "new way of governing".

The election campaign was dominated by the economy and the war on drugs.

"There will be no pact nor truce with organised crime," Mr Pena Nieto said.

He had been presented as the new face of the PRI, a break with the party's long and at times murky past that included links with drug gangs.

The party held on to power for 71 years until it was defeated in 2000.

Mr Pena Nieto built his reputation on the "pledges" he set out for his governorship in Mexico state, focusing on public works and improvement of infrastructure.

Outgoing President Felipe Calderon has congratulated Mr Pena Nieto and promised to work with him during the transition to his inauguration in December.

The main contenders: Lopez Obrador (left), Vazquez Mota (centre) and Pena Nieto (right) The main contenders: Pena Nieto (left), Vazquez Mota (centre) and Lopez Obrador (right)

"I sincerely hope for the smooth running of the next government for the benefit of all Mexicans," Mr Calderon said, in a televised address.

Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, running for the leftist Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD) is in second place with about 32% of the vote.

The official quick count, published by the electoral authorities (IFE), is based on returns from a sample of around 7,500 polling stations across Mexico and has a 0.5% margin of error.

Mr Lopez Obrador, who was the runner-up in the 2006 election, has not conceded victory.

"The last word hasn't been spoken yet," he said.

"We simply do not have all the facts. We are lacking the legality of the electoral process."

In 2006, he refused to recognise Mr Calderon's narrow victory and led street protests for months afterwards.

Mexico's PRI

  • 1929: Dominates Mexican politics from its foundation as National Revolutionary Party (PNR) by revolutionary leader Plutarco Elias Calles
  • 1934: Nationalises oil industry
  • 1946: Party takes name of Partido Revolucionario Institucional (Institutional Revolutionary Party)
  • 1988: Leftist coalition defeated by PRI's Carlos Salinas in a vote widely seen as rigged
  • 1989: PRI's first state election defeat
  • March 1994: PRI presidential candidate Luis Donaldo Colosio murdered; replacement Ernesto Zedillo wins election
  • Sept 1994: Outgoing president's brother Raul Salinas accused of organising murder of PRI secretary general. Jailed but conviction later quashed
  • 1997: PRI loses majority of Congress
  • 2000: PRI loses presidency to Vicente Fox

Josefina Vazquez Mota, the candidate of Mr Calderon's governing National Action Party (PAN) has already accepted defeat.

The initial results from IFE put her on some 25%.

Many voters have abandoned the party because of the deaths of more than 55,000 people in drug-related violence since President Calderon deployed the army to fight Mexico's drug cartels.

Mr Calderon was constitutionally barred from seeking re-election.

Security display

Almost 80 million people were eligible to cast their ballots on Sunday.

Police and army were deployed to protect voters from intimidation by drug cartels at polling booths.

Officials said the voting was largely peaceful, but reported some initial problems as a number of stations opened later than planned.

"Everything has been very good," one voter in Mexico City told the BBC. "But people aren't very motivated to vote, perhaps because the candidates make so many promises but we're always worse off."

With nearly half the Mexican population living in poverty, the economy was one of the main issues in the campaign.

Unemployment remains low at roughly 4.5%, but a huge divide remains between the rich and the poor.

The war on drugs also played an important part in the campaign and the main opposition candidates have been critical of Mr Calderon's policies.

Mexicans were also electing 500 deputies, 128 senators, six state governors, the head of government in the Federal District (which includes Mexico City) and local governments.

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