Mexican election tribunal clears way for Peña Nieto

Mexico’s highest electoral court, late Thursday, rejected a legal bid to overturn Enrique Peña Nieto’s victory in the July 1 presidential election, paving the way for the centrist to begin his six-year term in December.

Peña Nieto and his Partido Revolucionaro Institutional, or PRI, were accused by runnerup Andres Manuel López Obrador of laundering money and buying votes to secure a victory, but the judges said there was insufficient evidence of wrongdoing.

López Obrador, a leftist former mayor of Mexico City, said the PRI bought 5 million votes with illegal funding and supplied voters with presents such as supermarket gift cards, fertilizer, cement and even farm animals.

But Justice Flavio Galvan dismissed evidence submitted by the leftist coalition regarding purported abuses by Peña Nieto’s campaign as “vague, generic and imprecise.”

The unanimous ruling by the seven-member federal electoral tribunal will return the PRI to power after it lost the presidency for the first time in 71 years in the 2000 elections. The PRI had governed Mexico with an authoritarian hand, but Peña Nieto has promised to break with his party’s nefarious past.

Outside the courthouse, about 200 demonstrators shouted their disapproval when the decision was announced.

The protests tapped into memories of the PRI’s long rule in Mexico, which lasted between 1929 and 2000 and was frequently dogged by allegations of corruption and vote-rigging.

Peña Nieto won the election with 38.2 percent of the vote compared to 31.6 percent for his challenger, who lost by 3.3 million ballots. He rejected the claims of López Obrador, who also unsuccessfully challenged 2006 election results. He lost that year by less than 1 percentage point.

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