Polls: Mexico′s old guard takes the lead | News | DW | 02.07.2012
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Polls: Mexico's old guard takes the lead

The Mexican presidential election, according to exit polls, is favoring the opposition candidate, whose long-ruling party looks set to return to power after a 12-year absence.

The Institutional Revolutionary Party's (PRI) candidate, Enrique Pena Nieto, has won 40 percent of the vote, according to early polls from Mexico's election on Sunday.

Former Mexico City Mayor and center-left candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador won about 30 percent of the vote, and Josefina Vazquez Mota took 23 percent of the vote for the current-governing National Action Party.

The exit polls were released shortly after the polls closed at 8 p.m. local time.

Nieto's PRI ruled Mexico for 71 years before losing power in 2000. If the official results echo these early exit polls, the PRI will take over in December.

The PRI has been helped by voter frustration with Mexico's struggling economy and the violent drug war that has killed nearly 50,000 people over the past six years.

Nieto, the 45-year-old former governor of Mexico State, has campaigned with a pragmatic economic approach in the tradition of the last three PRI presidents, calling for more private investment in the state-controlled oil industry. He hopes to reduce violence by attacking crimes that hurt ordinary citizens.

He was tipped for victory prior to the election as he had been leading in the polls against his rivals in recent weeks.

The PRI's apparent victory marks a comeback once thought impossible. The party lost badly in 2000 and finished a weak third in the last presidential election. The party was known for governing in a heavy-handed fashion.

Nieto is the face of a reformed PRI, noting that the party has abandoned its former ways and will now lead instead in an open and pluralistic manner.

Sunday's election was the biggest in Mexican history. It was selecting a new president, both houses of Congress, six state governors and the Mexico City mayor.

tm/ccp (AP, AFP, dpa)