Tue, Jul 03, 2018 - Page 6 News List

Lopez Obrador wins Mexican election

NO TO GRAFT:He said corruption is the cause of the inequality and violence that have bedeviled the nation and he would root it out. He takes office in December

Reuters, MEXICO CITY

Mexican president-elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador waves to supporters from a stage in Mexico City’s Zocalo after winning the presidential election on Sunday night.

Photo: AFP

Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said he would pursue friend and foe alike in a crackdown on corruption after voters handed him a powerful mandate for Mexican government with a landslide election victory on Sunday.

Lopez Obrador, the first leftist president since the end of one-party rule in 2000, won between 53 and 53.8 percent of votes, according to a quick count by the electoral authority, more than double the total for his nearest rival.

That would be the biggest share of the vote since the early 1980s, and would give Lopez Obrador a strong platform both to address Mexico’s internal problems and face external challenges like the threat of a trade war with the US.

Going into yesterday it was unclear whether Lopez Obrador had done enough to secure the first outright majority in Congress in over 20 years, with pollsters’ early estimates suggesting he was close in the lower house, but farther away in the Senate.

Speaking to reporters after his win, the 64-year-old Lopez Obrador identified corruption as the “principal cause” of inequality and the criminal violence that has bedeviled Mexico for years, and said he would spare no one in his commitment to root it out.

“Whoever it is will be punished, I include comrades, officials, friends and family members,” he said. “A good judge begins at home.”

The election was a crushing defeat for the ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), which governed Mexico from 1929 to 2000 continually and again from 2012.

Public anger over corruption scandals, which have shattered the PRI’s credibility, was a defining feature of the campaign, alongside nationwide discontent over soaring levels of violence and years of lackluster economic growth.

Lopez Obrador, a former Mexico City mayor, was greeted with rapturous cheers by supporters in the capital’s Zocalo central square around midnight, while friends celebrated in his tiny hometown of Tepetitan, in the poor southern state of Tabasco.

The victory was a vindication for Lopez Obrador, who was written off by many critics after narrowly failing to capture the presidency at his first bid in 2006.

Then, he cried fraud and declared himself the rightful winner, but alienated many supporters with huge street protests that brought much of the capital to a standstill for weeks.

He also began campaigning relentlessly around Mexico with the message that he alone could fix the country’s problems, calling out his opponents as corrupt and inept.

Finishing second again in 2012, he remained the most visible opposition leader and by this year had become the focal point of public frustration with the establishment’s shortcomings.

Once results showed his margin of victory on Sunday, and mindful of accusations that his instincts cleave toward authoritarianism, Lopez Obrador quickly sought to calm nerves about his presidency.

He pledged to pursue responsible economic policies, respect private property and to guarantee individual liberties.

He also paid tribute to the role in the campaign played by Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto and the media, both of which have felt the bite of his scorn in the past.

Mexican presidents are limited by law to a single term.

Lopez Obrador will take office in December facing a US government that has been openly antagonistic to Mexico over trade and migration under US President Donald Trump.

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