Mexico could return old ruling party to power

Associated Press
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Enrique Pena Nieto, top, presidential candidate for the Revolutionary Institutional Party (PRI) waves to supporters after casting his vote during general elections at a polling station in Atlacomulco, Mexico, Sunday, July 1, 2012. Mexico's more than 79 million voters head to the polls Sunday to elect a president, who serves one six-year term, as well as 500 congressional deputies and 128 senators. (AP Photo/Esteban Felix)

MEXICO CITY (AP) — Presidential candidate Enrique Pena Nieto leads with about 40 percent of the vote in early exit polls, signaling a return of Mexico's long-ruling party after a 12-year hiatus.

Exits polls released by Milenio and TV Azteca networks say Pena Nieto garnered between 39 percent and 42 percent of the vote to his leftist and conservative rivals. Former Mexico City Mayor Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has about 30 percent of the vote to Josefina Vazquez Mota's 23 percent for the current governing National Action Party.

The exit polls were released shortly after voting ended nationwide at 8 p.m.

Pena Nieto's Institutional Revolutionary Party held a strong lead throughout the campaign. The party was voted out of the presidency in 2000 after 71 years in power.