MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexican opposition candidate Enrique Pena Nieto maintained his lead in a final count from Sunday’s presidential election, confirming initial results published the night of the vote.
With 92 percent of polling stations counted by Thursday morning, Pena Nieto held 38.4 percent of the vote, seven points ahead of the leftist Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, setting up a return to power by the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI).
Mexico’s Federal Electoral Institute (IFE) expected to conclude the final vote count on Thursday and certify the results on Sunday, when an official count of results from the congressional elections is due.
Preliminary results showed Pena Nieto claimed victory Sunday with some 38 percent of the vote, about 6.5 points clear of Lopez Obrador. Trailing in third was Josefina Vazquez Mota of the ruling conservative National Action Party (PAN).
The final count, which includes a number of recounts from certain polling stations, was largely confirming the outcome reported the night of the election.
Pena Nieto has already been congratulated on his win by outgoing President Felipe Calderon and leaders such as U.S. President Barack Obama and Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff.
Lopez Obrador alleged there were widespread irregularities and demanded a full recount, but Mexico’s Federal Electoral Institute (IFE) has said it was only recounting votes from 54 percent of polling stations based on more specific criteria.
The law stipulates a recount can only be requested at a polling station where there is a gap of less than 1 percentage point between the two leading candidates, or for other “inconsistencies” that could include hard-to-read ballots.
Lopez Obrador denounced what he called vote-buying and coercion on the part of the PRI. The party gained a reputation for vote-rigging during its 71-year hold on power, which ended when it was defeated by the PAN in a 2000 election.
Lopez Obrador also challenged the outcome when he finished a much closer second in the 2006 presidential election. He refused to concede then and called for street protests that blocked the main boulevard in Mexico City for weeks.
Pena Nieto said there was no room for vote-rigging in Mexico.
“I condemn all kinds of (irregular) practices by all political parties, they shouldn’t exist,” Pena Nieto said in a television interview with Telemundo on Wednesday night. “If there is clear and reliable evidence then it should be presented to the electoral authorities.”
Reporting by Daniel Trotta; Editing by Vicki Allen