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With Widespread Support, Lopez Obrador Wins Mexico’s Presidency

Presidential candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador addresses supporters after polls closed in the presidential election, in Mexico City, Mexico July 1, 2018. REUTERS/Carlos Jasso - RC194A9B8B40

Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, a former rights activist and Mexico City mayor, has been elected president of Mexico.

The 64-year-old candidate said fighting corruption would be the top goal of his government. He is member of the National Regeneration Movement (MORENA) party.

Lopez Obrador is estimated to have won between 53 and 59 percent of the vote. That is a much higher percentage than his closest competitors -- and a level of public support not seen in Mexico for more than 30 years.

Mexicans also voted for members of both houses of Congress and nine governors.

Lopez Obrador’s presidential competitors, Jose Antonio Meade of the ruling PRI party and Ricardo Anaya of the PAN party, wished him success “for the well-being of Mexico.”

The ruling PRI, or Institutional Revolution Part, is expected to suffer losses in this election. It is the party of current Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto, who has very low public approval ratings.

Peña Nieto had been highly critical of U.S. President Donald Trump over the disputed wall along the U.S.-Mexico border and other issues.

Mexico is currently renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement -- known as NAFTA -- with the United States and Canada.

Trump has been highly critical of Mexico’s control of its border. Many undocumented immigrants and asylum seekers from Central America pass through Mexico before trying to enter the United States.

Trump congratulated Lopez Obrador in a tweet on Sunday.

He wrote:“Congratulations to Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador on becoming the next President of Mexico. I look very much forward to working with him. There is much to be done that will benefit both the United States and Mexico!”

Lopez Obrador has promised to stop corruption in Mexico’s government. He has also promised to increase spending on social programs while keeping government spending under control.

Duncan Wood heads the Mexico Department of the Wilson Center in Washington, D.C. He told VOA that he does not expect the new president to make big changes in policy. But Duncan also said that many people are unsure of how Lopez Obrador will be able to provide what he has promised.

There also are question of whether he will be able to work with Trump on trade and immigration.

Supporters of Lopez-Obrador celebrated wildly in Mexico City. Thousands poured into the Zócalo, the city’s main square, to hear their former mayor speak to his supporters.

Retired teacher Susan Zuniga told the Associated Press that the movement was similar to the Mexican Revolution.

“The people are fed up. That is what brought us to this,” she said.

The leader of Mexico’s other NAFTA partner, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, welcomed Lopez Obrador’s victory, calling Mexico a “close friend.”

The results bring to an end what may have been Mexico’s most violent election. News reports say that more than 100 politicians were killed in the campaign leading up to Sunday’s vote.

Mexico’s president serves on six-year term without the possibility of re-election.

Lopez Obrador will take office on December 1.

I’m Mario Ritter.

VOA News and Victor Beattie reported this story. Mario Ritter adapted it for VOA Learning English with additional material from AP. Ashley Thompson was the editor.

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