Pena Nieto 'wins' Mexican election
Mexican opposition candidate Enrique Pena Nieto's campaign team claimed victory in the country's presidential election after exit polls showed him winning by a comfortable margin.
With returns in from more two-thirds of polling booths, Mr Pena Nieto (45), of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), had 37 per cent of the vote, more than four percentage points clear of leftist rival Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador.
"Mexicans have given our party another chance. We are going to honor it with results," a visibly moved Mr Pena Nieto told followers packed inside the PRI headquarters in Mexico City.
Jubilant supporters waved banners sporting caricatures of their candidate and his trademark quiff, and confetti in the red, green and white of the Mexican flag - and the PRI's colors - rained down inside the hall.
Outgoing president Felipe Calderon congratulated Pena Nieto on his triumph.
The PRI, which governed Mexico for 71 years until losing power in 2000, has staged a comeback behind Mr Nieto, who has pledged to open state-owned oil monopoly Pemex to foreign investors, raise tax revenue and liberalise the labor market.
The exit polls had showed him winning around 40 per cent of the vote. Leftist rival Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador was in second place with Josefina Vazquez Mota of the ruling National Action Party, or PAN, trailing in third.
"I recognize that the trend up to this point is not in my favor," said Ms Vazquez Mota, whose campaign was dragged down by a brutal war with drug cartels and the government's patchy economic record.
By the time it lost to the PAN in 2000, the PRI had a reputation for widespread corruption, electoral fraud and authoritarianism.
The PRI was in disarray by 2006, when its presidential candidate came in a distant third, but it has rebounded since then, and Mr Pena Nieto gave it a new face.
He is promising to restore security to cities and towns ravaged by the drug war and also plans to reform Pemex, a proposal once considered political suicide. Mexicans are fiercely protective of Pemex, but the PRI, which nationalised oil production in 1938, could be the one party able to liberalize the energy industry.
The PRI laid the foundations of the modern state with a nimble blend of politics and patronage that allowed it to appeal to unions and captains of industry at the same time.
Mexicans eventually tired of heavy-handedness that stifled dissent, rewarded loyalists and allowed widespread corruption.