June 19, 2013
Mexican opposition defeats Calderón on home turf
Mexico's main opposition party edged out President Felipe Calderón's ruling conservatives in a closely fought weekend state election, retaining the upper hand going into next year's presidential vote.
Preliminary results from the Sunday gubernatorial election in the western state of Michoacan showed Fausto Vallejo of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) defeated the president's elder sister Luisa Maria Calderón in the last state vote before the July 2012 presidential contest.
Michoacan is Calderón's home state and a loss in a campaign dominated by fears about soaring drug-related violence caps a difficult weekend for the government, which lost its interior minister in a helicopter crash on Friday.
Michoacan has been one of the hot spots of Calderón's battle against drug traffickers, who wield extensive control over parts of the state. Calderón's sister complained that armed gangs intimidated voters in some districts.
"The lack of security decided the election in some regions of the state," Luisa Maria Calderón told local radio.
With votes counted in nearly all polling stations, Vallejo was at 35.4 percent and Calderón 32.7 percent, the Michoacan electoral institute said on its website.
Victory for Vallejo, a former mayor of the state capital Morelia, should put wind in the sails of the PRI's Enrique Pena Nieto, the front-runner to win the presidency in 2012.
The third-placed Silvano Aureoles from the leftist Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD), which has ruled Michoacan for the past decade, was close behind on 28.9 percent.
Calderón's National Action Party (PAN) had never won an election in Michoacan, but recent polls suggested his sister had a good chance of changing that.
The Michoacan race was so tight that the candidates from all three parties declared themselves victors after voting stations closed, citing their own exit polls.