Although the result of the 2012 Mexican presidential elections is not yet official, news outlets around the world are announcing the expected victory of Enrique Peña Nieto following initial vote tallies from Sunday night.

From the US, the New York Times reported the fact that the PRI seem likely to come back to power after 12 years in opposition, going as far as to say that before the 2000 elections, the PRI wielded power with ‘an autocratic grip’. Describing the victory, the Times said that:

‘Buoyed by a strong machine across several states, by the youthful Mr. Peña Nieto’s capture of the television spotlight and by voters’ unhappiness with the direction of the country, the PRI defeated both the incumbent conservative party and the candidate who nearly beat the conservatives last time.”’

In the UK, the Guardian focused on Peña Nieto’s Sunday night victory speech:

‘ “This Sunday Mexico won”, Peña Nieto said at his party’s headquarters in the capital to the strains of a popular mariachi song, accompanied by his soap opera star wife and children. “Mexico voted for change with direction,” he added.

During his speech, the slick, telegenic former governor of the country’s most populous state was at pains to address fears that a PRI comeback would mean a return to the periodic authoritarianism, corruption and corporatist hubris that had characterised the party’s political hegemony for most of the last century.

“Mine will be a democratic presidency. We are a new generation and there will not be a return to the past,” he said. “In today’s plural and democratic Mexico everybody has a place.” ’ 

The paper also discussed the actions of the PRD’s presidential candidate Andres Manuel López Obrador in the 2006 election:

“Despite claiming the campaign had not been fair and suggesting his own data differed from the official figures released so far, López Obrador’s measured tones contrasted sharply with the radicalism that marked his refusal to accept defeat at the last presidential election six years ago. On that occasion his claims of fraud sparked a bitter post-election political crisis that lasted the entire five-month transition period.”

The Guardian also noted that PAN candidate Josefina Vazquez Mota admitted defeat relatively early on Sunday evening, having been placed in third position by the early polls. In her concession speech, she warned about a possible return to authoritarianism, and asked her party to take a hard look at its motivations and origins, suggesting a return to a citizen focused organization.

The Telegraph noted the more controversial aspects of Peña Nieto’s election campaign, including alegations of overspending during his campaign and receiving favourable coverage from Televisa, Mexico’s television giant. This was also an issue covered by German newspaper Der Speigel in their coverage of the election. Venezuelan newspaper El Nacional chose to focus on the even more controversial aspects of Peña Nieto’s history.

In an article titled ‘The PRI Is Back’, The Economist focused on the fact that Peña Nieto’s victory had been largely predicted in the months leading up to the election, and talked about the fact that Mexico may see disruption once again as a result of the election result:

 ‘Nearly all pollsters had expected Mr Peña to win. The projected result however is closer than most predicted. Surveys had given Mr Peña a lead of between ten and 15 percentage points. If the projected results of the presidential race are mirrored in the congressional elections, which was held on the same day, the PRI is likely to be the biggest party in both houses. Still it may fall short of the absolute majority for which it had hoped. A complicated voting system, involving elements of first-past-the-post and proportional representation, means that the composition of the legislature will not be known until late on Monday.

Many have predicted that a close result would lead to a challenge by Mr López Obrador, who lost the 2006 election by less than 1% and mounted a months-long blockade of Mexico City’s main thoroughfare to protest that result, which he claimed (with thin evidence) was fraudulent. This year’s race looks to be nothing like as close as that of 2006. But if Monday’s final results show a narrower gap, Mr López Obrador’s committed followers could yet take to the streets again.’

In Spain, El Pais focused on Peña Nieto’s future plans for Mexico, whilst in Brazil, Folha de Sao Paolo reports that according to preliminary results, the PRI can expect a majority in both houses of Congress.

The story may change in the coming hours and days: many in Mexico speak darkly of ‘trouble ahead’, with a strong belief that things could get as ugly as they did back in 2006 once the official results are announced. For now however, it seems to only be a matter of time before Peña Nieto becomes Mexico’s next president.


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