Former energy secretary appears headed to win in Mexico’s ruling party presidential primary
SAN CRISTOBAL DE LAS CASAS, Mexico – Mexico’s former energy secretary appeared headed toward another victory in Sunday’s second round of the ruling National Action Party’s three-part presidential primary.Felipe Calderon scored a surprise victory in the first primary round in September over former interior secretary Santiago Creel, and with about 92 percent of the votes counted from Sunday’s second round, Calderon had a comfortable lead.Calderon got 50 percent of the votes counted, with Creel trailing at 36 percent; former environment secretary Alberto Cardenas was in a distant third, with 13 percent.Sunday’s election offered over 300,000 party members in eight southern states a choice between three candidates for the nomination, in states from Yucatan to Veracruz. However, less than a third of those eligible appeared to have voted.The first round was held Sept. 11. The country’s remaining northern and western states will take part in the third round On Oct. 23.President Vicente Fox, who is prohibited by law from seeking a second term, has not endorsed any candidates from his party.Mexico’s three major political parties must register their candidates by January. The leftist Democratic Revolution Party is expected to nominate former Mexico City Mayor Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who leads all polls ahead of the presidential election.Creel led in polls among party members for months. But Calderon has steadily gained ground and performed well in a nationally televised debate.Calderon has proposed to extend Fox’s success on economic stability, while improving law enforcement and creating a coalition-style government if the PAN fails to win control of Congress. He ran unsuccessfully for governor in his home state of Michoacan in 1995.An estimated 1.1 million party members were eligible to participate in the three PAN primary elections.If no candidate obtains 50 percent plus one vote in the first phase a second round will be held Nov. 6 between the top two contenders.Two people were seeking the candidacy of the Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI. Former Mexico state governor Arturo Montiel and former PRI party president Roberto Madrazo were also scheduled to face off in a primary election.During 71 years of uninterrupted power – which ended with Fox’s victory in 2000 – the presidents from the PRI hand-picked their successors behind closed doors and the party conducted elections often marred by fraud.
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