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Mexico's Lopez Obrador on brink of historic presidential win

Mexico
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Leftist populist Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador was on the brink of a historic presidential win on Sunday night as an exit poll gave him an overwhelming...

Supporters of presidential candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador celebrate his apparent victory in Mexico City's main square, the Zocalo, on Sunday.

Leftist populist Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador was on the brink of a historic presidential win on Sunday night as an exit poll gave him an overwhelming lead and both of his chief rivals conceded defeat.

Mr. Lopez Obrador, who has vowed to transform Mexico and oust the “mafia of power” that rules the country, had a 16 to 26 point lead over his nearest rival, conservative Ricardo Anaya, and a slightly larger edge over Jose Antonio Meade of the ruling Institutional Revolutionary party, according to the survey by polling firm Consulta Mitofsky.

“The tendency favours Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador. ... I recognize his triumph,” Mr. Anaya said in a speech to supporters. Minutes earlier Mr. Meade had also conceded, saying that “for the good of Mexico, I wish him the greatest success.”

Electoral officials had not released any vote returns.

Mr. Lopez Obrador, better known as AMLO, has said he will rule Mexico for the poor and fight rampant corruption.

Exit polls by Consulta Mitofsky also forecast clear gubernatorial wins for allies of Mr. Lopez Obrador’s Morena party in four of eight State races on the ballot plus for the head of government in Mexico City. The central state of Guanajuato was predicted to go to a candidate of the conservative National Action Party.

Sunday’s elections for posts at every level of government are Mexico’s largest ever and have become a referendum on corruption, graft and other tricks used to divert taxpayer money to officials’ pockets.

Many saw this election as Mr. Lopez Obrador’s best shot at the presidency after 12 years of near-permanent campaigning with his anti-establishment message falling on receptive ears amid widespread disillusionment with politicians.

Many firsts

Sunday was the first time that an independent candidate appears on the ballot.

Jaime “El Bronco” Rodriguez fought for attention with a horse-mounted “everyman” campaign and by tossing out policy bombs like his proposal to cut off the hands of public officials caught stealing. Without the big party machinery it was an uphill battle.

It is also the first time Mexicans living abroad can vote for down ballot races like senators. More than 181,000 received ballots and the 97,000 that the National Electoral Institute had gotten back by Friday morning were already double what they got in 2012.

Four killed ahead of elections

The head of the country’s electoral institute, Lorenzo Cordova, said voting was proceeding “peacefully, without major incidents,” and that only four of the 156,807 polling places failed to open.

On Saturday, the Democratic Revolution party said four of its members were killed in Mexico State, west of Mexico City, while trying to prevent hand-outs of goods by the ruling party to potential voters.

The government of the northern state of Chihuahua reported that three people were arrested in the border city of Ciudad Juarez for allegedly trying to buy votes for an unnamed political party.

And in Michoacan state, polling places in a few villages were cancelled after some inhabitants said they didn’t want elections involving political parties, which they mistrust. Some ballots were stolen and burned in the town of Nahuatzen to prevent voting.

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