Mexico's PRI battles to survive

Amid the confusion surrounding Mexico's presidential election, one thing was clear Monday: The Institutional Revolutionary Party's historic defeat six years ago was not a fluke.

The PRI, which ruled Mexico for 71 years until it was narrowly defeated by Vicente Fox in 2000, got a painful beating at the polls Sunday.

Its presidential candidate finished third at least 13 percentage points behind the front-runners and it lost its plurality in Congress for the first time since it was formed in 1929, preliminary results indicated, reports AP.

According Globe and Mail, as preliminary results showed the two front-runners within a couple of percentage points, federal election officials announced last night that the results were too close and they would wait until all ballots were counted across the country.

"From the quick count, it is not possible to declare a precise winner," said Luis Carlos Ugalde, chairman of the electoral institute in a nationally televised statement three hours after the official close of voting.

Just before the polls closed, Luis Ugalde, the head of the Federal Electoral Institute, appeared on national television and urged candidates and their supporters to wait for official results.

At stake in the contest is whether the country remains on a conservative track and stays a firm U.S. ally or joins a trend that has brought several leftists to power in Latin America in recent years, weakening Washington's influence.

The election was another milestone in the country's march toward full democracy after more than seven decades of single-party, autocratic rule, which ended with the election six years ago of President Vicente Fox, who by law cannot run for another term.

The campaign was marked by wide differences on how to handle the economy and a storm of negative advertising, as Lopez Obrador's opponents tried to generate a high level of anxiety that his leftist populism would undo the country's democratic progress and stability, informs Denver Post.

O.Ch.