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Mexico's old guard wins presidential race

Enrique Pena Nieto, presidential candidate for the Revolutionary

Enrique Pena Nieto, presidential candidate for the Revolutionary Institutional Party (PRI) shows his ink-stained thumbs after casting his vote in Atlacomulco, Mexico. The electoral authority of Mexico declared him the winner, citing preliminary counts. (July 1, 2012) Photo Credit: AP

MEXICO CITY -- Enrique Peña Nieto of Mexico's old guard won the presidency Sunday, according to preliminary results from the electoral authority. Meanwhile, Peña Nieto's party, Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, prepared to sail back into power after a 12-year hiatus as his leftist rival refused to concede.

Mexico's Federal Elections Institute said Sunday night that the preliminary count showed Peña Nieto won with about 38 percent of the vote, topping about 31 percent for Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador of the Democratic Revolution Party and 25 percent for Josefina Vazquez Mota of President Felipe Calderon's National Action Party.

Late Sunday night, Calderon congratulated Peña Nieto and called on the nation to respect the results of the vote, Bloomberg News reported.

Vazquez Mota conceded earlier, as did New Alliance candidate Gabriel Quadri, who had only single-digit support. "Mexico is better off today than it was 12 years ago," Vazquez Mota said in her concession speech, The Washington Post reported. "Now it's up to us to preserve what we've accomplished together."

Lopez Obrador, 58, said Sunday night he wouldn't concede, adding that he would await a full count. "We will obtain all of the ballots to have transparency for the election," he tweeted.

Peña Nieto, 45, called his victory "a fiesta of democracy." He promised a government that would be democratic and open to criticism. He pledged to fight organized crime and said there would be no pacts with criminals. "There is no return to the past," he said. "You have given our party a second chance and we will deliver results. . . . I will work for all of Mexico . . . I will govern for everyone."

PRI also appeared likely to retake at least a plurality in the two houses of Congress and some governorships.

Critics said the PRI's 71-year rule was characterized by authoritarian and corrupt practices. But the PRI has sought to portray itself as a group that has been modernized and does not seek to a return to the old ways, and held a strong lead throughout the campaign. The PRI has been bolstered by voter fatigue due to a sluggish economy and the sharp escalation of a drug war that has killed roughly 50,000 Mexicans over the past six years.

During the campaign, Peña Nieto called for greater private investment in the state-controlled oil industry and lower violence by attacking crimes that hurt ordinary citizens while de-emphasizing the pursuit of drug kingpins.

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