World News

Lopez Obrador scores landslide victory as Mexico votes for change

Posted July 1, 2018 9:21 p.m. EDT
Updated July 2, 2018 12:36 a.m. EDT

— Leftist Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has declared victory in Mexico's presidential election, as preliminary results showed he had secured a landslide win.

President-elect Lopez Obrador is estimated to have received over 53% of the vote, more than double the total of his closest rival, according to the country's electoral commission.

"Today, they have recognized our victory," Lopez Obrador, known by his initials AMLO, told a crowd of jubilant supporters at an event in Mexico City late Sunday local time.

President Enrique Peña Nieto called Lopez Obrador shortly beforehand to congratulate him and pledged to help him carry out an orderly transition.

AMLO had dominated the polls in the run up to Sunday's vote, at times holding a 20 point lead over his rivals. Within two hours of polls closing, three of his main rivals had conceded defeat.

Speaking to a Mexican broadcaster before addressing his supporters, Lopez Obrador said he was "very pleased that the people gave me their support, their endorsement. We thank all of the people of Mexico."

He also said his "main promise is to not allow corruption or impunity. We will stamp out corruption in Mexico."

US President Donald Trump congratulated AMLO in a tweet, saying he looked forward to working with him. "There is much to be done that will benefit both the United States and Mexico," Trump said.

AMLO mania

For many of the 89 million eligible Mexican voters, Sunday's election was a referendum on the country's political elite and its economic direction, as well as the tenure of President Enrique Peña Nieto, who was limited to a single six-year term.

Younger Mexicans, many of whom have grown up surrounded by rampant corruption and drug violence, were expected to have played a key role in choosing the country's direction. Nearly 13 million voters between the ages of 18 and 23 were expected to vote for the first time, according to election officials.

Homicide rates soared to an all-time high under Peña Nieto, whom critics accused of failing to adequately deal with crime, corruption and economic inequality.

Mexico's new leader will have to contend with US President Donald Trump's threats to pull out of the North American Free Trade Agreement and his calls for the construction of a border wall between the two countries, among other divisive talking points. Lopez Obrador, who at times led polls by as much as 20 points, told voters that he is the person for the job.

Lopez Obrador pushed back against plans for a border wall in a book he wrote titled "Oye Trump, or "Listen Trump." He also pledged to propose to keep NAFTA.

He ran on a populist platform to break what he described as the grip that elites -- or "power mafia" --- have on Mexican society. He said he would lower the salaries of top officials and give those at the bottom a pay rise. He promised to sell the presidential planes and turn the presidential palace into a public park.