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The BBC's Tom Gibb in Mexico City
"Fox may well have slain the PRI, but is unlikely to take Mexico in a radically different direction"
 real 28k

Monday, 3 July, 2000, 06:53 GMT 07:53 UK
End of an era for Mexico
Vincente Fox
One of the most important events in Mexico's history
The main opposition candidate in the presidential election in Mexico, Vincente Fox, has won an historic victory.

He has beaten the candidate of the party which has ruled Mexico for more than 70 years, the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI).

Official projections gave the opposition candidate, Vicente Fox of the National Action Party (PAN), a winning margin of between four and six per cent on the basis of a partial count of the vote.



We have to work together to make Mexico the great country we have all dreamed of

Vincente Fox
As his supporters surged on to the streets of Mexico City to begin celebrating, Mr Fox said his government would be willing to work with honest members of all parties.

However, he warned that those who are corrupt will have no place in Mexico in the future.

Congratulations

"I feel like I'm on top of the world," Mr Fox, who also celebrated his 58th birthday on Sunday told cheering crowds.

"Today I am more in love than ever with my country. Tomorrow, we have a lot - a lot - or work to do.


Mexico city
Supporters of Fox gather by the Angel of Independence statue in Mexico city
Outoing President Ernesto Zedillo telephoned Mr Fox to offer his congratulations.

The PRI presidential candidate, Francisco Labastida, said: "The citizens have made a decision that we should respect, and I'll set the example myself."

The BBC's correspondent in Mexico city says these have probably been the first really clean elections in Mexico's history, thanks to reforms carried out under President Zedillo.

He says over the past decade, the government has been forced to introduce democratic reforms in order to be accepted as a member of the international community.

This, he says, opened the way for Sunday's historic opposition victory, which has closed a chapter on the single party system.

Mr Fox's centre-right party is widely seen to represent the face of modern Mexican business.

The former Coca-Cola executive began campaigning three years ago, while also acting as governor of Guanajuato state and running a ranch of cattle, ostriches and chickens.

To Mexico's elite, he is seen as the man who will continue President Zedillo's market-oriented economic policies.

Democracy

To the poor he has presented himself throughout the three years of election campaigning as a tough-talking rancher who never left home without his cowboy boots on.

Besides pledging to stamp out corruption, he says he will parcel out the country's riches more equally among nearly 100 million citizens.


PRI candidate Labastida
Labastida: Loses a long, gruelling battle
He has also vowed to form a pluralistic administration made up of members of all parties, including the PRI.

"Democracy is the people," Mr Fox told Televista broadcasting in a question and answer session after exit polls were announced.

"Today we are taking a step forward toward full democracy and this is a guarantee for the economy."

Voters are also electing 128 senators, 500 federal deputies and the head of Mexico City's administration.

Correspondents say although it will take some time for the final figures to emerge, it seems the PAN leader is likely to face a divided Congress and Senate.

They say Fox's party will dominate but it will not have an absolute majority and Mr Fox will have to work with the new opposition if he is to succeed.

Leftist candidate Cuauhtemoc Cardenas of the Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD) appeared to be in third place with around 16%.

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02 Jul 00 | Americas
Mexico's all-powerful party
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