July 5 (Bloomberg) -- Enrique Pena Nieto remains the winner of Mexico’s presidential vote as electoral authorities near completion of a recount of ballots amid allegations of vote-buying by the Institutional Revolutionary Party.
With 91.3 percent of the official vote count completed, Pena Nieto of the PRI has 38.4 percent support, compared with 31.4 percent for Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador. The figures are similar to those in a preliminary count challenged by Lopez Obrador.
The official count includes a recount of 54.5 percent ballot boxes used in the July 1 election, the Federal Electoral Institute, or IFE, said yesterday. Lopez Obrador of the Democratic Revolution Party has challenged preliminary results that awarded the presidency to Pena Nieto, calling the contest “a national embarrassment” and accusing the PRI of spending “billions of pesos” to regain power after a 12-year hiatus. His coalition said it had detected irregularities at more than half of the country’s polling stations.
“We’re not asking for any favors, we’re asking for the law to be respected,” Lopez Obrador told reporters July 3 at his campaign headquarters in Mexico City. “All the votes must be counted.”
Preliminary results from the IFE show Pena Nieto captured 38.2 percent of votes, compared with 31.6 percent for Lopez Obrador. Pena Nieto received 3.19 million votes more than Lopez Obrador, the data show.
The results of the presidential recount should be ready today, after which authorities will reopen more than 60 percent of the ballot boxes in congressional races, Edmundo Jacobo Molina, executive secretary of IFE, said yesterday.
Mexican authorities are calling the July 1 vote the most-transparent in the country’s history and a mission of foreign observers led by former Colombian President Cesar Gaviria also gave their approval, saying that whatever irregularities were detected don’t take away from what was a well-run election.
Dozens of protesters gathered July 3 outside IFE’s main office in Mexico City, shouting anti-PRI and anti-Pena Nieto chants. They were separated from the complex’s gates by a two-deep cordon of at least 100 police officers clad in green reflective jackets.
The PRI denies Lopez Obrador’s allegations.
“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,” party spokesman Eduardo Sanchez said in a phone interview July 2.
Lopez Obrador, 58, lost the 2006 election to current President Felipe Calderon by less than a percentage point. To protest the result, which he said was fraudulent, he occupied Mexico City’s central plaza and main business avenue for weeks with encampments.
The candidate has given no indication he will follow a similar strategy this time round, instead saying complaints about the election will be filed to the electoral institute.
Mexico’s peso gained less than 0.1 percent to 13.3337 against the U.S. dollar yesterday. Yields on benchmark peso bonds maturing in 2024 have fallen 11 basis points, or 0.11 percentage point, to a record low 5.39 percent since the election.
The market is shrugging off Lopez Obrador’s refusal to concede defeat, said Claudio Irigoyen, head of Latin America fixed-income and foreign-exchange strategy at Bank of America Corp.
“He’ll probably keep barking, but that’s all that’s going to happen,” Irigoyen said in a phone interview from New York. Six years ago, Lopez Obrador “might have had a point because it was a close election, now nobody has a doubt that Pena Nieto won so I think it’s going nowhere.”
In 2006, the peso lost 6.3 percent in the six months leading up to the election. This year, it gained 4.3 percent over the same period, making it the best performer among major currencies.
“Once the results are confirmed the markets are going to focus on the ability of Pena Nieto to make a coalition with PAN to pass his reforms,” Irigoyen said, referring to Calderon’s National Action Party.
Pena Nieto has pledged initiatives to increase Mexico’s tax collection, boost formal employment and allow greater private investment in the oil industry.
Lopez Obrador said that Pena Nieto was favored by Mexico’s media during the campaign and the PRI exceeded spending limits established by the electoral authority.
The buying of votes “is a subject of legality,” said Senator Alberto Anaya, of the Labor Party, a member of the coalition supporting Lopez Obrador.
“The recount will permit a complete view of the results of the election,” Anaya said in an interview in Mexico City following Lopez Obrador’s July 3 press conference. “It’s something that the law establishes, that when there are inconsistencies in the acts and elements of the vote, a recount is obligatory.”
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