Recount confirms PRI win in Mexico vote, but legal battle looms
MEXICO CITY -- A partial recount of the Mexican presidential vote has confirmed the victory of Enrique Peña Nieto and his Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), which ruled the country for seven decades until being ousted in 2000.
The Federal Electoral Institute completed the recount from Sunday’s election on Friday morning. Peña Nieto received a little more than 38% of the vote, while his nearest rival, veteran leftist leader Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, got 31%. The difference represents between 3 million and 4 million votes.
The final count differed by only a few decimal points from the original fast count released Sunday night.
Lopez Obrador, however, reiterated his refusal to accept the results. He said he would mount a legal challenge in the courts to overturn the election. He has not ruled out street demonstrations like the ones he inspired in 2006, when he lost the presidential election by a much narrower margin. But he hasn't convened them, either.
Lopez Obrador’s Democratic Revolutionary Party has charged that the PRI paid voters to cast their ballots in the PRI’s favor. One tactic, which reporters have documented, was the distribution of discount cards for a local supermarket chain to voters who said the cards came from the PRI. A huge rush on one of the stores earlier this week seemed to bolster the claim.
The PRI has denied it was responsible and contended that the left was "staging" the whole thing.
But another candidate in the race, the ruling party’s Josefina Vazquez Mota, who came in third, added her voice to complaints about electoral shenanigans.
She said there were "inequities" that marred the campaign and influenced the final vote. Those, she said, included opinion polls throughout the race that gave a suspiciously high (and ultimately incorrect) margin of advantage to Peña Nieto.
Instead of seeking to annul the election, however, she said electoral reforms were necessary to close many of the loopholes that candidates use to skirt legal limits on spending and commit other abuses.
Lopez Obrador is being urged in some quarters to "move on" and accept the results. Other analysts suggest his protests are aimed at driving home the point to the PRI that 62% of the electorate did not vote for the party, and that Peña Nieto will have to deal with that constituency, both in a divided Congress and in the streets.
-- Tracy Wilkinson
Photo: Supporters of Mexican presidential candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador hold banners during a protest Thursday in Mexico City. They claim the election was marred by fraud and vote-buying. One banner alludes to the Federal Electoral Institute (IFE) and says "IFE, coward, correct the damn fraud!" Credit: Sashenka Gutierrez / EPA