Mexican leftist Lopez Obrador wins presidency – exit polls
02 Jul 2018

Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador decisively won Mexico’s presidency on Sunday, exit polls showed, setting the stage for the most left-wing government in decades at a time of tense relations with the Trump administration.

Pledging to eradicate corruption and subdue drug cartels with a less confrontational approach, the 64-year-old former Mexico City mayor will carry high expectations into office even as his efforts to reduce inequality are watched closely by nervous investors.

A Lopez Obrador government could usher in greater scrutiny of foreign investment and a less accommodating approach to the United States, but the peso rose more than 1 percent after his rivals conceded within minutes of the end of voting.

Four exit polls showed Lopez Obrador with a lead of more than 20 percentage points over his competitors, and winning between 46.8 percent and 59 percent of the vote. An official “quick count” of results is expected at midnight EDT (0400 GMT).

“The people wanted a change,” said Ricardo Anaya, a former head of the centre-right National Action Party (PAN) who was one of Lopez Obrador’s challengers. Exit polls forecast Anaya was likely to finish second, ahead of ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) candidate Jose Antonio Meade.

People streamed into Mexico City’s vast main square, where a stage was set up to receive the victor, with a large screen bearing the words “Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, president.”

Lopez Obrador’s nationalism, stubborn nature and put-downs of rivals have drawn comparisons to U.S. President Donald Trump.

In a posting on Twitter, Trump congratulated the leftist on his victory. “I look very much forward to working with him. There is much to be done that will benefit both the United States and Mexico!” Trump tweeted.

The first high-level contact between Lopez Obrador and the White House is likely to be a phone call on Monday. Earlier on Sunday, Trump raised the prospect of taxing cars imported from Mexico if there are tensions with the new government.

– By Christine Murray and Diego Oré and Reuters staff, 2 July 2018.

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