Mexico's Lopez Obrador claims historic win, broad mandate

Mexico's Lopez Obrador claims historic win, broad mandate

Furious at spiraling corruption and violence, Mexican voters unleashed a political earthquake Sunday by electing a leftist firebrand as president and giving him a broad mandate to overthrow the political establishment and govern for the poor. A late-night official quick count from electoral authorities forecast that Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador would win with between 53 percent and 53.8 percent of the vote, a remarkable margin not seen in the country for many years. A prominent exit poll predicted that his party allies were poised to score huge wins in the Senate and lower house, possibly absolute majorities in both. Lopez Obrador, who campaigned on vows to transform Mexico and oust the "mafia of power" ruling the country, rode widespread voter anger and discontent with the governing Institutional Revolution Party, or PRI, of President Enrique Pena Nieto and had led opinion polls since the beginning of the campaign. The PRI, which dominated Mexican politics for nearly the entire 20th century and recaptured the presidency in 2012, was set to suffer heavy losses not just for the presidency but in down-ballot races as well. In brief remarks at a hotel in central Mexico City, Lopez Obrador called for reconciliation after a polarizing campaign and promised profound change that respects the law and constitutional order. "I confess that I have a legitimate ambition: I want to go down in history as a good president of Mexico," said Lopez Obrador, who won after losses in the previous two elections. "I desire with all my soul to raise the greatness of our country on high." The president-in-waiting devoted much of his speech to appealing to citizens of all stripes and seeking to reassure those who have eyed his candidacy nervously. "This new national project will seek to establish an authentic democracy and we do not intend to establish a dictatorship," Lopez Obrador said. "The changes will be profound, but in accordance with established order." Conservative Ricardo Anaya of a right-left coalition and the PRI's Jose Antonio Meade acknowledged defeat shortly after polls closed nationwide. The quick count had them around 22 percent and 16 percent, respectively. "The tendency favors Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador. ... I recognize his triumph," Anaya said in a speech to supporters. "For the good of Mexico, I wish him the greatest success," Meade said minutes earlier.