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Mexico’s ruling party loses grip on capital, congress

Eds: LEADS with 6 grafs to RAISE reason the ruling party lost its hold on Congress. Picks up 7th graf pvs, ``With 79.2 ...″

With PM-Mexico-Mayor; PM-Cardenas Profile; PM-Mexico-Democracy

AP Photos MO101-2,112,117,119;ACA105;MTY101

By JOHN RICE

Associated Press Writer

MEXICO CITY (AP) _ In elections widely seen as a victory for democracy, a leftist who founded his own party captured Mexico City’s mayoral race and the ruling party lost its unquestioned hold on Congress for the first time in nearly seven decades.

The ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party, known as PRI, was punished by Mexicans suffering under the country’s economic crisis. It lost at least two of six governor’s races as well as the Mexico City mayor’s post.

``End to 70 Years of Hegemony,″ the financial daily El Financiero announced on its front page today. ``PRI Loses its Majority,″ trumpeted the Mexico City daily Reforma.

``This was a revolution, the beginning of a new country. The era of the sole party has ended in Mexico and we enter a complex new era,″ said political scientist Sergio Aguayo, a leader of the Civic Alliance poll watching group.

Cuauhtemoc Cardenas, a two-time presidential loser and son of one of Mexico’s most beloved presidents, claimed victory in Sunday’s mayoral election, beating the ruling party candidate by a 2-1 margin, preliminary results showed.

The famously glum-faced Cardenas smiled jubilantly before his cheering supporters and immediately set his sights three years ahead to Mexico’s next presidential race.

``We have won the city. Let’s get set for the year 2000!″ Cardenas said.

With 79.2 percent of ballots counted in the federal congressional races, .....................

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