Mexicans went to the polls yesterday to elect a new president in what could be a stunning comeback for the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), which dominated Mexican politics for almost a century and lost twelve years ago to conservatives.
And now, Mexicans are willing to give the establishment party a new opportunity as conservative PAN is perceived as having failed to deliver stronger economic growth and – most importantly – a definite blow to the brutal drug lords that keep the country (and its neighboring United States) in constant terror.
Enrique Pena Nieto, a young and good looking former governor of the state of Mexico who is member of the PRI, leads his two main opponents – leftist Manuel Lopez Obrador, from PRD; and Josefina Vasquez Mota, from PAN (who could become Mexico’s first female presidenta) – by a double digit margin (39% versus Lopez Obrador’s 25% and Vasquez Mota’s 20%).
However, during the past few weeks, establishment Pena Nieto’s seeming coronation has run into some obstacles as Mexican students have organized online and protested what they see as the Mexican media’s favoritism for the candidate through the movement “Marcha Yo Soy 132.”
PolicyMic will be live updating the elections results. Bookmark this page and refresh it frequently for live updates:
Monday, 4:15 p.m.
Monday, 2 p.m.
Enrique Pena Nieto Wins, But Will Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador Concede?
With 90% of the precincts reported, former governor of the state of Mexico and Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI, in its Spanish initials) member Enrique Peña Nieto, is the projected winner with 37% of the vote against Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD) member Andres Manuel López Obrador’s 32%, and PAN candidate Josefina Vásquez Mota’s 25%.
However, that hasn’t stopped López Obrador from refusing to concede the election, as he vows to wait for a final vote count amid allegations that Mexico “doesn’t want to return to the past” – a reference to Peña Nieto’s party, which governed the country for almost a century amid allegations of blatant corruption and economic stagnation.
López Obrador’s refusal to concede is a flashback to 2006, when the leftist leader refused to accept defeat in that year’s presidential race against incumbant President Felipe Calderón. López Obrador decried fraud and instigated a series of popular protests that paralyzed Mexico City for days. Many fear the trailing candidate may try to pull a similar stunt this year, as he had accused Peña Nieto of trying to buy the election even before the voting had started.
However, if the brief rally/demonstration López Obrador and his supporters staged at a Mexico City downtown hotel this morning is any indication, it is unlikely the candidate will attempt a similar strategy this year.
According to reports, though López Obrador vowed to “wait before making any final positions” and claimed “there is no final word yet,” his speech was brief and simple, and his demeanor mellow, not combative.
Monday, 11:20 a.m.
Enrique Peña Nieto will be the president of Mexico until the end of 2018. He won Mexico’s presidential election last night handily and will be bringing back PRI, Partido Revolucionario Institutional, to Los Pinos, where it has not been since 2000. In order to have a mutually beneficial relationship with Mexico, it is important that Americans know what Peña Nieto will bring to the table. Barack Obama, or Mitt Romney (should he become president,) should be mindful of that as well.
1. Neither PRI nor Peña Nieto is corrupt, but there is still some bad blood.
The election of Peña Nieto is notable because his party, PRI, was ousted in elections in 2000 after 71 years of corrupt rule. The party was known for doling out political favors and having a cozy relationship with organized crime. This legacy prevented some voters from voting for the PRI, once synonymous with corruption in Mexico.
However, times have changed. The backroom deals of PRI are history. For one, Peña Nieto, governor of the State of Mexico from 2005-2011, is a 45-year-old who, like his team that mostly consists of young technocrats, has acknowledged the history of the party and has pledged not to follow in its footsteps. Furthermore, the political landscape in Mexico has changed since the PRI’s hayday. Important democratic institutions such as the Mexico's supreme court, congress, central bank, and media outlets have become more autonomous over the years. It is unlikely that corruption will steal the day during the Peña Nieto years.
However, Peña Nieto does not have a perfect record. It is widely reported that Peña Nieto has close relations with a broadcast company, Televisa. In 2005, the marketing campaign for the gubernatorial campaign “was organized by Televisa's vice president for sales and marketing, Alejandro Quintero.” From 2005-2010, the Peña Nieto administration spent approximately $55 million, half of which went to Televisa. While this may appear troubling, it is not uncommon for Mexican politicians to have relationships with media outlets. It is also a far cry from previous PRI relationships with the media. Overall, Peña Nieto should be mostly trusted but, like every president, he should still be watched.
2. The war on drugs will stay mostly the same, but with a bit more domestic action.
Peña Nieto will certainly not emulate the PRI of the 20th century, which often cut deals with drug cartels. In fact, the Mexican war on drugs will remain mostly the same. The previous president, Felipe Calderón, was known for his hard-lined war on the drug cartels. The response from the cartels was violent, with 50,000 Mexicans dying during the Calderón administration. However, eight out of ten Mexicans still want the military to play a role in the crackdown on the cartels. Peña Nieto (and all of the presidential candidates he defeated, for that matter) agrees. He has pledged to support the current war on drugs. Indeed, the candidates’ interests in sustaining the status quo of how the drug war is fought and of drug policy is staunch and has disappointed some.
The only change to which the new president has committed is to shift law enforcement efforts away from drug trafficking (i.e. taking drugs to the United States) to reducing violence and crime in Mexico. Make no mistake, the United States and Mexico currently work closely on combating drug trafficking and this is not likely to fundamentally change. But because Mexico will not be fighting trafficking as much as they once were, the United States should be prepared to fill the gap. There are no codified agreements between Mexico and the United States that define their counter-narcotic cooperation. Therefore, when Peña Nieto brings in new staff in December with a new agenda, it will be very important for Barack Obama to reach out to the new staff and establish a working relationship. If Mitt Romney becomes president in January, both sides will be starting from scratch and should be ready to work together.
3. Peña Nieto will change the business climate in Mexico.
Mexico was hit hard by the 2008 recession but seems to be recovering. Mexico outpaced Brazil, the poster child of economic success in South America, in 2011 and looks poised to do the same in 2012. Initiatives such as its “Base Zero Regulation” project seek to open up the door to small businesses. For his part, Peña Nieto has already pledged to open up Mexico’s nationalized oil and gas business to private investment. American investors and politicians should look toward Peña Nieto's term as a time to invest in the burgeoning country. However, it is important that this is done quickly. China is Mexico’s second-biggest trading partner and will be eager to get their foot in the door, as well.
It will also be important for Peña Nieto to reform tax policy. Currently, oil and gas make up a third of Mexico’s revenue. Once that is privatized, Mexico will be in desperate need of cash. The obvious answer is to raise taxes. Mexican residents and businesses currently pay the lowest tax rates in the Western Hemisphere.
With the election of Enrique Peña Nieto, Mexico begins a new era that will not end until 2018. With a growing economy, growing population, and an enormous shared border with the United States, Mexico is a country we should continue to embrace and work with.
Monday, 10:45 a.m.
Now, with 90% of polls reporting, Nieto still looks like he will edge out the competition:
Monday, 10 a.m.
Mexico's old guard sailed back into power after a 12-year hiatus Sunday as the official preliminary vote count handed a victory to Enrique Pena Nieto, whose party was long accused of ruling the country through corruption and patronage.
The second place candidate, leftist Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, refused to concede, saying he would wait for a full count, according to the Associated Press.
The Federal Electoral Institute's representative count said Pena Nieto of the Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, won about 38% of the vote, prompting wild cheers from a party that was voted out in 2000 after 71 autocratic years in power. Lopez Obrador of the Democratic Revolution Party had 31% and Josefina Vazquez Mota of the ruling National Action Party had about 25 percent, according to the institute.
Monday, 9:30 a.m.
Enrique Pena Nieto has won the Mexican presidency, according to a preliminary count by the country's federal elections institute.
Pena Nieto, 45, returns his party, the PRI, to power after a dozen years. But the big question tonight is how will this impact the U.S. and the violent drug war south of the border?
Monday, 9:05 a.m.
With 86% of polls reporting, here's a look at the electoral map:
Monday, 8:28 a.m.
Pena Nieto -- 37.55% (16,012,261 votes)
Lopez Obrador -- 32.24% (13,746,353 votes)
Vasquez Mota -- 25.44% (10,846,915 votes)
Voter Turnout: 63.02%
Precincts Received: 84.65%
Monday 8:01 a.m.
Pena Nieto -- 37.47% (15,689,146 votes)
Lopez Obrador -- 32.34% (13,542,269 votes)
Vasquez Mota -- 25.41% (10,641,284 votes)
Voter Turnout: 62.99%
Precincts Received: 82.71%
Monday 7:43 a.m.
Pena Nieto -- 37.42% (15,441,054 votes)
Lopez Obrador -- 32.42% (13,376,342 votes)
Vasquez Mota -- 25.39% (10,476,333 votes)
Voter Turnout: 62.98%
Precincts Received: 81.46%
Monday 6:56 a.m.
Pena Nieto -- 37.28% (14,572,583 votes)
Lopez Obrador -- 32.61% (12,749,408 votes)
Vasquez Mota -- 25.35% (9,973,910 votes)
Voter Turnout: 62.94%
Precincts Received: 77.53%
Sunday 12:06 a.m.
Pena Nieto -- 36.2% (2,185,902 votes)
Lopez Obrador -- 32.67% (1,972,645 votes)
Vasquez Mota -- 26.41% (1,595,182 votes)
Voter Turnout: 62.11%
Precincts Received: 12.95%
Sunday 11:52 p.m.
Pena Nieto -- 36.19% (1,539,082 votes)
Lopez Obrador -- 32.28% (1,372,547 votes)
Vasquez Mota -- 26.82% (1,140,439 votes)
Voter Turnout: 62.06%
Precincts Received: 9.32%
Sunday 11:42 p.m.
Pena Nieto -- 36.16% (1,242,475 votes)
Lopez Obrador -- 31.03% (1,100,588 votes)
Vasquez Mota -- 27.32% (931,176 votes)
Voter Turnout: 61.98%
Precincts Received: 7.63%
Sunday 11:36 p.m.
Pena Nieto -- 36.13% (1,100,912 votes)
Lopez Obrador -- 31.86% (970,958 votes)
Vasquez Mota -- 27.32% (832,487 votes)
Voter Turnout: 61.93%
Precincts Received: 6.83%
Sunday 11:25 p.m.
Pena Nieto -- 36.13% (862,160 votes)
Lopez Obrador -- 31.51% (751,850 votes)
Vasquez Mota -- 27.68% (660,573 votes)
Voter Turnout: 61.79%
Precincts Received: 4.24%
Sunday 11:17 p.m.
Pena Nieto -- 36.31% (664,469 votes)
Lopez Obrador -- 31.15% (571,744 votes)
Vasquez Mota -- 27.97% (513,299 votes)
Voter Turnout: 61.79%
Precincts Received: 4.24%
Sunday 11:09 p.m.
Pena Nieto -- 36.32% (488,354 votes)
Lopez Obrador -- 30.81% (414,485 votes)
Vasquez Mota -- 28.19% (379,180 votes)
Voter Turnout: 61.57%
Precincts Received: 3.18%
Sunday 10:57 p.m.
Pena Nieto -- 36.48% (333,664 votes)
Lopez Obrador -- 30.57% (279,638 votes)
Vasquez Mota -- 28.29% (258,250 votes)
Voter Turnout: 61.37%
Precincts Received: 2.22%
Sunday 10:41 p.m.
Pena Nieto -- 36.95% (144,864 votes)
Lopez Obrador -- 29.38% (115,178 votes)
Vasquez Mota -- 29.09% (114,037 votes)
Voter Turnout: 60.73%
Precincts Received: 1.02%
Sunday 10:30 p.m.
Pena Nieto -- 37.01% (117,186 votes)
Vasquez Mota -- 29.21% (92,483 votes)
Lopez Obrador -- 29.17% (92,369 votes)
Voter Turnout: 60.61%
Precincts Received: 1.02%
Sunday 10:22 p.m.
Pena Nieto -- 37.23% (90,974 votes)
Lopez Obrador -- 29.18% (71,153 votes)
Vasquez Mota -- 28.95% (70,599 votes)
Voter Turnout: 60.53%
Precincts Received: 0.66%
Sunday 10:16 p.m.
Pena Nieto -- 37.41%
Vasquez Mota -- 29.35%
Lopez Obrador -- 28.56%
Voter Turnout: 60.28%
Precincts Received: 0.52%
Sunday, 10:08 p.m.
Nieto -- 37.17%
Mota -- 30.28%
Obrador -- 27.87%
Voter Turnout: 59.87%
Sunday, 10:01 p.m.
Nieto -- 37.86%
Mota -- 30.37%
Obrador -- 26.99%
Voter Turnout: 59.78%
Sunday, 9:45 p.m.
With less than 1% reporting, Nieto still holds the lead with 38%, followed by Mota with 32% and Obrador with 26%.
Sunday, 9:20 p.m. A Look at the Electoral Map.
Green -- Nieto
Yellow -- Obrador
Blue -- Mota
Sunday, 9:05 p.m.
Early results reporting now. With less than 1% of polls reporting, here's Nieto has taken an early lead:
Nieto -- 51%
Obrador -- 26%
Mota -- 20%
Voter Turnout: 65%
Sunday, 8 p.m.
The first national exit polls were expected when voting ends in the westernmost part of the country at 8 p.m. Mexico City time.
Results should be in by 9 p.m. EDT.
Sunday, 5:47 p.m.
Reports from around the country showed that voting continues underway without any incidents of major violence, besides last night's Nuevo Laredo explosion. The polls will be open until 7 p.m (EDT), and partial results are expected two hours later.
Sunday, 4:51 p.m.
Almost 80 million people are expected to cast votes today in Mexico's 2012 presidential election, during which they will be electing not only the next president but also 500 federal representatives, and 128 senators -- according to El Paso Times.
Sunday, 3:38 p.m.
Peña Nieto voted in Atlacomulco, a city in Mexico state, which surrounds the Federal District and forms part of the Mexico City metropolitan area. "The winner will be the people of Mexico," who are "enjoying a festival of democracy," Peña Nieto, who governed Mexico state from 2005 to 2011, said.
Meanwhile, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, candidate of the leftist Progressive Movement coalition and the No. 2 candidate in the polls, voted at a polling place in Mexico City, and told reporters he felt "pretty good" and planned to organize "a national civic celebration" on Sunday night.
PAN presidential candidate Josefina Vazquez Mota, who was running third in the polls, voted in Huixquilucan, a city in Mexico state, surrounded by her family. "All citizens should go out and vote without fear, with their families," Vazquez Mota said before voting.
Sunday 3:10 p.m.
Accusations of voter fraud have tainted the Mexican elections as Lopez Obrador's aides have accused the Pena Nieto campaign of trying to buy voters through the alleged distribution of 9,500 prepaid gift cards worth nearly $5.2 million. Pena Nieto has also been accused of overspending his $330 million campaign funding limit, and "buying" favorable coverage from Mexico's television giant, Televisa.
Sunday, 2:27 p.m.
The polls close in Mexico at 9:00 p.m. (EST), and El Universal has reported that an explosion near Nuevo Laredo's city hall yesterday injured 7 people while destroying 11 cars and damaging government's buildings. As a result, the Mexican army will be patrolling the town, located in the bordering state of Tamaulipas, while the votes are being casted and then counted.