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The PRI is back. The Institutional Revolutionary Party that ruled Mexico for much of the 20th century but has been out of power for 12 years claimed victory in the country’s presidential election Sunday. Enrique Peña Nieto, the man known more for his dashing good looks than political views, had a clear lead, although the victory does not appear to have been as resounding as many had anticipated. According to a representative count of the ballots, he received 38 percent of the votes, about 7 points more than the nearest rival, reports the Associated Press.
The PRI’s victory also doesn’t seem to have fully trickled down to other elections. Initial projections suggest the PRI failed to win enough votes to gain an absolute majority in Congress, reports Reuters.
Still, even if the victory wasn’t as wide as some PRI stalwarts were expecting, Peña Nieto’s victory still marked “a remarkable act of political rehabilitation” for the party, as the Washington Post points out. It was also “a clear vote of no confidence” to President Felipe Calderon and his party, PAN, after 12 years in power.
While Peña Nieto wasted no time in declaring victory, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, the leftist leader who came in second place, refused to concede, saying he will wait for a final vote count. The move brought immediate fears that the chaos following the 2006 presidential elections would be repeated, when Lopez Obrador sparked a series of paralyzing protests after claiming the vote was marred by fraud, notes the Los Angeles Times. Yet his supporters insist such fears are unfounded.
To Mexico’s northern neighbors, the big question is how Peña Nieto will go about combating drug trafficking and drug-related crime. Tellingly, the issue was not a key part of the campaign, but the president-elect has made it clear he would prioritize fighting against the violence that is directly affecting Mexicans. To some that is a clear sign that he might ease pressure on drug traffickers themselves, notes the New York Times.