Mexico's President Defeated in National Election

Published July 3rd, 2000 - 02:00 GMT

For the first time in 71 years, an Institutional Revolutionary Party candidate lost the Mexican presidential election Sunday, reported Foxnews.com.  

The report said that the election preliminary results "are sufficient and trustworthy enough to say that the next president of the republic will be Vicente Fox," President Ernesto Zedillo said in a nationally televised statement. "I have telephoned him to express my sincere congratulations."  

Sunday's presidential vote was the first in more than a century in which the outcome wasn't clear beforehand. Despite hundreds of allegations of pressure and vote-buying - most perpetrated by the ruling party - the elections were widely seen as Mexico's fairest ever, said Foxnews.  

The opposition victory was almost unthinkable for many in Mexico, where the ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, is almost synonymous with the government - and even the nation itself - to millions of supporters and detractors alike, added the report.  

Five national exit polls gave a clear edge to opposition candidate Vicente Fox in historic presidential elections Sunday that could bring an end to the ruling party's 71-year lock on the presidency.  

Fox, of the conservative National Action Party, held a lead of between 6 and 9 percentage points over the PRI's Francisco Labastida, according to the exit polls by Mexican television stations and US polling companies.  

"From today forward, we need to unite. ... We have to work together to make Mexico the great country we have all dreamed of," Fox was quoted as saying. He called Sunday a "historic day for our country."  

People began gathering beneath the gilded angel of Mexico City's Independence Monument as the polls poured in, all favoring Fox, said the report.  

"He is going to do away with the bad governments, the narco-politicians, dishonest people," said Miguel Morlet, a 60-year-old hotel administrator.  

Nearby, celebrating youths waved the blue and white National Action flag while plastic trumpets blared amid chants of "Yes you could!" for the rapidly gathering television cameras.  

An exit poll by the Televisa television network showed Fox with 44 percent and Labastida with 38 percent. Another poll by the rival TV Azteca network gave Fox 38.8 percent to Labastida's 30.5 percent, and one by the Reforma newspaper showed Fox with a 44 percent to 36 percent edge.  

An exit poll by the Chamber of the Radio and Television Industry had Fox ahead 43-34 and a poll by two US polling firms showed him ahead 42-36. Leftist Cuauhtemoc Cardenas was a distant third in all the polls.  

The polls by Televisa and the US firms had a margin of error of one percentage point; Azteca's was 1.5 and the others didn't give margins of error.  

Fox is a former Coca-Cola executive and rancher who was elected governor of central Guanajuato state in 1995.  

He pledges to halt corruption, jump-start the economy with foreign investment and jobs programs and nearly double spending for public education. He espouses an agreement with the United States that would let workers cross the border freely, according to the report.  

The ruling party standard-bearer, Labastida ran a largely traditional campaign after a landslide victory in the party's first presidential primary in November.  

He promised more aid for the countryside, more resources for public education and more attention to the poor. Labastida, a former governor of Sinaloa state, was a top Cabinet secretary before the campaign and said he would continue many of President Ernesto Zedillo's policies.  

Cardenas, a veteran leftist leader, was in his third presidential campaign. Many Mexicans believe he won the 1988 elections, only to be cheated out of a victory by fraud.  

Three other candidates were on the ballot, although one told his supporters in the weeks before the election to vote for Fox – Albawaba.com  

 

© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)

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