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MEXICO CITY: Mexico’s former rulers claimed victory in a presidential election on Sunday, ending 12 years in opposition after a campaign dominated by a stuttering economy and rampant drug violence.
After pledging to restore order and ramp up economic growth, Enrique Peña Nieto of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) had a clear lead over his rivals in exit polls.
Although his main rival said it was too early to concede defeat, Peña Nieto, 45, delivered a late-night victory speech to cheering supporters, and a senior electoral official said the PRI candidate’s lead was “irreversible”. “Mexicans have given our party another chance. We are going to honour it with results,” Peña Nieto said.
Outgoing President Felipe Calderon congratulated him. With returns in from more two-thirds of polling booths, Peña Nieto had 37 percent of the vote. His lead was widening.
Having run Mexico as a one-party state for most of the 20th century, and once described as the “perfect dictatorship”, the PRI was ousted 12 years ago. The handsome Peña Nieto has helped make the party electable again. He hopes to ignite economic growth, create jobs and draw the heat out of a drug war that has killed more than 55 000 people since 2006. Peña Nieto has shied away from targeting the drug cartels – which his predecessor did, only to exacerbate the violence – pledging instead to focus on reducing crime. – Reuters