July 3, 2005

Mexico’s biggest state votes in election

TOLUCA, Mexico (Reuters) - Voters in Mexico's biggest statewent to the polls on Sunday to choose a governor in electionsthat should signal how presidential polls next year will turnout.

The main opposition Institutional Revolutionary Party, orPRI, looked set to win a landslide in the state of Mexico, ahorseshoe-shaped territory around Mexico City.

The party, which ruled Mexico for 71 years before PresidentVicente Fox defeated it at 2000 elections, needs to hold ontothe state to raise its chances for next year's presidentialballot.

Opinion polls show PRI candidate Enrique Pena, 38, headingfor an easy victory, helped by the party's impressive campaignmachinery.

"Enrique Pena is the best candidate. As a young person, hehas good ideas and proposals," said voter Ruben Evaristo in thetown of Ocoyoacac, in the mountains near state capital Toluca.

Pena is too young to be associated with the darkest days ofthe PRI, which governed Mexico with a mixture of repression,corruption and coercion.

An opinion poll last week showed him 16 percentage pointsahead of nearest rival Ruben Mendoza of Fox's conservativeNational Action Party.

Yeidckol Polevnsky of the left-wing Party of the DemocraticRevolution is expected to finish third, dealing a blow toAndres Manuel Lopez Obrador, the mayor of Mexico City andleftist front-runner for the presidency.

The PRI is also expected to win back the governorship ofthe small western state of Nayarit in another election onSunday. It lost the state to a coalition of anti-PRI parties in1999.