Mexico confirmed on Friday that Enrique Peña Nieto won Mexico’s presidential election with results showing that National Action Party (PAN) candidate got about 3.3 million more votes than his closest rival, giving him a 6.6 percent lead in the former ruling party's bid to regain power.
After a heated election season that saw candidates spar over how best to handle the country’s ongoing drug war, the announcement of his victory comes a day after Peña Nieto gave an interview with the Washington Post where he said that he plans to expand his country’s drug-war partnership with the United States.
“Without a doubt, I am committed to having an intense, close relationship of effective collaboration measured by results,” said Peña Nieto, according to the Washington Post. The president-elect, however, emphasized that he doesn’t support the presence of armed American agents in Mexico.
Peña Nieto told the newspaper that he would consider allowing U.S. military instructors into Mexico to train Mexican soldiers in counterinsurgency tactics learned in Iraq and Afghanistan, but that more-involved measures like those the U.S. employs in Central America would not be implemented in Mexico.
I am committed to having an intense, close relationship of effective collaboration measured by results.
“It is just as if I asked you: Should our police operate on the other side of the border? No. That would not be allowed by U.S. law. Our situation is the same,” he said. Mexican laws will be enforced by Mexicans, Peña Nieto added.
The incoming president takes over from current President Felipe Calderón, who came into office in 2006 among his own election scandal. A few days after coming into office, Calderón declared war on the country’s drug cartels.
Since the beginning of the country’s offensive on the cartels many cartel members have been killed or deatined, but over 50,000 people have been slain in the ensuring violence.
There are worries among some in Mexico and U.S. that Peña Nieto may abandon Calderón’s policy toward the cartels and revert back his party’s old way – which saw widespread corruption between politicians and drug traffickers.
Peña Nieto deflected those accusations, saying that instead he planned to refocus the drug war’s effort away from capturing high-level traffickers and instead on reducing the number of homicides in the country.
“We should set measurable objectives over a determined period of time that are agreed by both governments,” he said.
The announcement of Peña Nieto’s victory came on the heels of widespread accusations of vote buying and miscounted ballots.
The count by the country's electoral authority, which included a ballot-by-ballot recount at more than half of polling places, showed Peña Nieto getting 38.21 percent of votes. His top challenger, leftist Andres Manuel López Obrador, got 31.59 percent.
The final count of the roughly 50.3 million valid ballots was almost exactly the same as the quick count released hours after the elections.
López Obrador said he will file a formal legal challenge to the vote count in electoral courts next week, based on the allegation that Peña Nieto's Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, engaged in vote-buying that illegally tilted millions of votes. PRI officials deny the charge.
"Rivers of illicitly obtained money were used to buy millions of votes," López Obrador told a news conference Friday. He also claimed that the recount of ballots at over half of polling places had not been carried out as thoroughly as promised.
Josefina Vazquez Mota of the conservative National Action Party got 25.41 percent of votes cast in Sunday's elections, and the small New Alliance Party got 2.29 percent, barely passing the two-percent barrier needed to preserve the party's place on future ballots.
Almost 2.5 percent of ballots where voided; while some voters in Mexico void their ballots as a form of protest, some also simply make mistakes in marking them.
The final vote count must be certified in September by the Federal Electoral Tribunal. The tribunal has declined to overturn previously contested elections, including a 2006 presidential vote that was far closer than Sunday's.
The Associated Press contributed reporting to this article.