Lopez Obrador Seeks Fraud Probe in Mexican Presidential Election

Mexican presidential candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said he will submit evidence to authorities of fraud and vote-buying by the Institutional Revolutionary Party of Enrique Pena Nieto in the July 1 election.

Pena Nieto benefited from the PRI buying at least one million votes and exceeding the campaign finance limit, Lopez Obrador of the Democratic Revolution Party said yesterday at a press conference in Mexico City. Pena Nieto has claimed victory in the contest.

Lopez Obrador, 58, the former Mexico City mayor, whose backers blockaded the capital’s main commercial boulevard in 2006 for weeks after he lost to President Felipe Calderon by less than a percentage point, didn’t call his supporters into the streets yesterday and said he would use legal means should he challenge the results. Lopez Obrador said most of Mexico’s media supported Pena Nieto’s campaign, manipulating and deceiving voters.

“We can’t accept a fraudulent result,” said Lopez Obrador, adding that middle-class and affluent Mexicans who backed Pena Nieto were voting “to maintain a regime of corruption.”

Jesus Zambrano, the head of Lopez Obrador’s party, said in an interview yesterday that the PRD will decide whether to formally protest the election’s result by tomorrow, once the district counts have been completed.

The PRI candidate leads by 3.2 million votes with 99 percent of the ballot counted, according to the Federal Electoral Institute.

Allegations Denied

Eduardo Sanchez, a spokesman for Pena Nieto’s party, denied the allegations last night.

“The charges are offensive to the dignity of all the voters who supported Pena Nieto, because they allege that Mexican voters are susceptible to vote buying,” he said in a phone interview.

The press office for the electoral institute declined to comment.

Lopez Obrador “will not be able to run the kind of post-electoral dispute that he ran in 2006,” said Federico Estevez, a political science professor at the Autonomous Institute of Technology of Mexico in Mexico City. “It’s obvious he lost. It wasn’t so obvious last time. That doesn’t mean there wasn’t skulduggery in the election.”

Lopez Obrador’s coalition did not initially accept the results when its candidate lost in the 2011 Mexico state election by 41 percentage points. Few protesters took to the streets after the race in that state, which was governed by Pena Nieto from 2005 to 2011 and is not a PRD stronghold.

Vote Count

With about one percent of votes remaining to be tallied in a preliminary count in the presidential race, Pena Nieto won 38.2 percent, topping 31.6 percent for Lopez Obrador, according to election authorities. Josefina Vazquez Mota of Calderon’s National Action Party, or PAN, gained 25.4 percent of the vote.

The vote returned to power the PRI, which ruled alone for seven decades until 2000, a period marked by corruption and cronyism. Pena Nieto pledged during his campaign to avoid repeating that experience.

“The Mexican people have given our party a second opportunity,” Pena Nieto, 45, told supporters in his victory speech. “I will be a modern, responsible president, open to criticism, ready to listen, and taking into account the views of everyone.”

The PRI and the allied Green Party fell short of winning a majority in Congress and will need support from opposition parties to enact Pena Nieto’s proposals for overhauling the state-run oil industry, tax and labor laws, according to Jorge Carlos Ramirez Marin, Pena Nieto’s deputy campaign chief.

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