GUADALAJARA, Mexico — Preliminary results of the Mexican presidential election show Enrique Peña Nieto of the center-left Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, is heading for a clear win.
Pena Nieto, who was the hot favorite going into Sunday's poll, has more than 37 percent of the votes counted so far, giving him a comfortable lead over his conservative rival Josefina Vazquez Mota of sitting President Felipe Calderon’s National Action Party (PAN), who has nearly 30 percent of the vote, according to data from the federal election commission.
Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador of the leftist Democratic Revolution Party has nearly 28 percent of the votes.
Pena Nieto's campaign team has already claimed victory, Reuters reported.
Vazquez Mota told her supporters that the early results were “not in my favor" as she conceded defeat.
"We won't permit the new government to surrender to organized crime," she told supporters as some yelled "the corrupt one won," the Associated Press reported.
The final result will be released at midnight (EST).
Exit polls indicate Pena Nieto won the election by between 8 and 10 percentage points over Lopez Obrador, according to Mexican newspaper Reforma. Left-winger Lopez Obrador had narrowly lost the last presidential election.
The PRI ruled Mexico for 71 years until 2000, when it was booted out of office by PAN.
During its time in power, the PRI became a symbol for corruption, repression, economic mismanagement and electoral fraud, and many educated Mexicans and urban dwellers are now worried the country could return to that grim period of the country's history.
“We don’t like the PRI, it is like going back to the past, the poorest past of Mexico,” Concepcion Garcia told GlobalPost after voting at a primary school in Guadalajara, Mexico’s second-largest city in the central state of Jalisco, earlier today.
“If the PRI is in power, we are afraid there will be no more democracy in this country.”
The Federal Electoral Institute said 60 percent of the nearly 80 million Mexicans eligible to vote participated in the election.
Authorities, worried that voter turnout could be lower this year, had pulled out all stops to get as many people as possible to polling stations.
The institute had plied the airwaves with advertisements urging Mexicans to lodge their vote.
Some businesses got on board, offering freebies, two-for-one deals and discounts for customers who could prove they had cast their vote in the elections for president, deputies, senators, governors and mayors.
Read more: Mexico 2012 elections coverage