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Mexico’s Lopez Obrador claims victory in ‘historic’ presidential election

A late-night quick count forecast he won between 53% and 53.8% of the vote.

Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has claimed victory in Mexico’s presidential election, calling for reconciliation after what he called a “historic day”.

Furious at spiralling corruption and violence, Mexican voters unleashed a political earthquake on Sunday by electing the leftist firebrand and giving him a broad mandate to overthrow the political establishment and govern for the poor.

A late-night official quick count from electoral authorities forecast that Mr Lopez Obrador would win with between 53% and 53.8% of the vote, a remarkable margin not seen in the country for many years.

A prominent exit poll predicted that his party allies were poised to score huge wins in the Senate and lower house, possibly absolute majorities in both.

US President Donald Trump tweeted his congratulations, adding: “I look very much forward to working with him. There is much to be done that will benefit both the United States and Mexico!”

There is much to be done that will benefit both the United States and Mexico! Donald Trump

Mr Lopez Obrador campaigned on vows to transform Mexico and oust the “mafia of power” ruling the country.

He rode widespread voter anger and discontent with the governing Institutional Revolution Party (PRI) of President Enrique Pena Nieto and had led opinion polls since the beginning of the campaign.

The PRI, which dominated Mexican politics for nearly the entire 20th century and recaptured the presidency in 2012, was set to suffer heavy losses not just for the presidency but in down-ballot races as well.

In brief remarks at a hotel in central Mexico City, Mr Lopez Obrador called for reconciliation after a polarising campaign and promised profound change that respects the law and constitutional order.

“I confess that I have a legitimate ambition: I want to go down in history as a good president of Mexico,” said Mr Lopez Obrador, who won after losses in the previous two elections. “I desire with all my soul to raise the greatness of our country on high.”

The president-in-waiting devoted much of his speech to appealing to citizens of all stripes and seeking to reassure those who have eyed his candidacy nervously.

“This new national project will seek to establish an authentic democracy and we do not intend to establish a dictatorship,” Mr Lopez Obrador said. “The changes will be profound, but in accordance with established order.”

Conservative Ricardo Anaya of a right-left coalition and the PRI’s Jose Antonio Meade acknowledged defeat shortly after polls closed nationwide.

Today one stage has ended and we are going to begin another one — we are going to transform Mexico! Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador

The quick count had them around 22% and 16% respectively.

“The tendency favours Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador. … I recognise his triumph,” Mr Anaya said in a speech to supporters.

“For the good of Mexico, I wish him the greatest success,” Mr Meade said minutes earlier.

Supporters began wild celebrations in Mexico City, cruising up and down the central Paseo de la Reforma boulevard honking horns to the tune of Viva Mexico! and waving Mexican flags from car windows and moon roofs.

Thousands poured into the sprawling main square known as the Zocalo, where the 64-year-old former mayor had called on his backers to rally Sunday night. Many danced to the trills of mariachi music.

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A supporter of presidential candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador waves a Mexican flag as she waits for his arrival at Mexico City’s main Zocalo plaza (AP/Emilio Espejel)

Mr Lopez Obrador spoke to the crowd there around midnight, saying to loud applause: “Today one stage has ended and we are going to begin another one — we are going to transform Mexico!”

He said individual and property rights would be guaranteed, promised respect for the autonomy of the Bank of Mexico and said his government will maintain financial and fiscal discipline.

He said contracts obtained under energy reforms passed under President Enrique Pena Nieto will be scrutinised for any corruption or illegality, but otherwise contracts will be honoured.

“There will be no confiscation or expropriation of assets. … Eradicating corruption will be the principal mission,” he said.

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