The runner-up in Mexico’s presidential election has challenged the results of Sunday’s vote, calling president-elect Enrique Pena Nieto’s victory “fraudulent” and raising the specter of protests that rocked Mexico City when he lost six years ago.
When leftist candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador lost the 2006 presidential election by less than 1 percent, he claimed fraud and organized mass protests that paralyzed Mexico City for more than a month.
The first official results from the vote showed Lopez Obrador with 31 percent of the vote against 38 percent for Pena Nieto of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) — a much wider margin than six years ago.
“We cannot accept a fraudulent result, nobody can accept that,” Lopez Obrador, of the Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD), said at a press conference, decrying Sunday’s vote as a “filthy ... national embarrassment.”
The PRI was synonymous with the Mexican state as it governed for seven decades until 2000, using a mixture of pervasive patronage, selective repression, rigged elections and widespread bribery.
Lopez Obrador claimed the PRI, through its national party and governors, spent millions of pesos buying votes. He also accused the news media of favoring the PRI and that the party shattered campaign spending limits.
“We will provide evidence for these claims and will file appropriate legal action,” Lopez Obrador said, adding that he and his supporters would first scrutinize the balloting results with election officials.
He was coy about whether he would call for protests as in 2006, saying: “We’re going to wait.”
However, students from the #Yosoy132 movement did not wait.
To the cry of “A Mexico without the PRI,” they expressed their anger in a Mexico City march over what they also described as “fraud” in Sunday’s vote.
City police said more than 25,000 protesters took to the streets in anger in the city’s upscale Polanco neighborhood.
One of the protesters, 20-year-old Bruno Rebolledo, said the protest movement aimed for “a revolution, but not violent, one of ideas.”
Lopez Obrador said he “respects” the movement’s independence, and refrained from urging them to join his protests.
Pena Nieto earlier said the PRI was a party that respected democracy.
“There is no return to the past. This PRI that is coming into office has proven its democratic conviction,” the 45 year-old told foreign reporters.
In a New York Times opinion piece, Pena Nieto vowed to fight poverty and “re-examine” the country’s drug policies, but also called on the US to enact immigration reform and do more to curtail demand for drugs.
He said he would create a new 40,000-strong National Gendarmerie to patrol the most violent areas and expand the federal police by 35,000 officers.