The Associated Press

MEXICO CITY -Faced with the weakest mandate of any Mexican leader in modern times, President-elect Ernesto Zedillo reached out to opponents on Tuesday to build a "government for everyone."

"We are facing a historic opportunity to create a government for the common good in which the interests of all are recognized," Zedillo said. He won the election Sunday to a six-year term.

With 65 percent of the ballots counted, Zedillo had 49 percent of the vote, an insurmountable lead over his rivals, but the lowest percentage ever for a ruling party presidential candidate.

The Sunday vote was widely seen as a watershed in Mexican politics, long-dominated by the Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, which has held the presidency since its founding in 1929.

A rebellion in the southern state of Chiapas, the assassination of the PRI's previous presidential candidate, discontent over electoral corruption and calls for greater democracy had shaken the PRI's 65-year grip on power.

Zedillo's comments Tuesday suggested he realizes he will have to accommodate other political parties if he wants to push through an ambitious program to create jobs, fight Mexico's grinding poverty and bolster education.

There also have been allegations of vote fraud.

Final results of the vote were not expected before Wednesday. The latest tally Tuesday had Diego Fernandez de Cevallos of the center-right National Action Party in second place with 28 percent, followed by Cuauhtemoc Cardenas of the Democratic Revolution Party with 16 percent.

Fernandez said this likely is his final run for the presidency.

"I will now return to the obligations of my work, which had been set aside for so long during this political campaign," Fernandez, a Mexico City lawyer, told the capital newspaper Reforma.

Both Fernandez and Cuauhtemoc have said they suspect the vote totals reported by the Federal Electoral Institute were off, despite largely peaceful voting, because of a shortage of absentee ballots and some scattered irregularities.

Cardenas summoned at least 20,000 people to a central Mexico City square on Monday to protest an election he called "a colossal fraud." He plans another rally Saturday.

Cardenas lost the 1988 election to the PRI's Carlos Salinas de Gortari and complained that victory was stolen after vote-counting computers mysteriously failed.

Zedillo, a 42-year-old Yale-edu cated economist, has promised to create 1 million new jobs, launch a war on poverty and strengthen education in a country where millions of people are illiterate.

A youthful workforce of 35 million Mexicans are clamoring for the skills needed to compete in the global workforce under the new North American Free Trade Agreement, launched Jan. 1 with Canada and the United States.

Business and investors, however, interpreted Zedillo's victory as a vote of confidence in the free-market and free-trade economic policies Zedillo promises to continue when he takes office Dec. 1.

Douglas Payne, with the New York observer group Freedom House, said Zedillo has raised many expectations with promises to better train, feed and house all Mexicans and now must fulfill the many pledges.

"Now he's got to deliver and this may be the PRI's last chance. It was a weak mandate, but it was enough to win," said Payne, noting that even Salinas polled 50 percent of the ballot in 1988.

The stock market, with almost half of its $73 billion investment pool held by foreigners, soared to a six-month high Monday, briefly crossing the 2,800-barrier Tuesday and is near its record high of 2,881 points.

Before the balloting, the stock market had fallen more than 13 percent in a year that featured an Indian revolt, the kidnappings of executives and the assassination of the PRI's first presidential candidate, Luis Donaldo Colosio.

Meanwhile, the peso strengthened from about 3.36 to the U.S. dollar at Friday's close, trading at 3.34 to the dollar Tuesday.

Jonathan Heath Constable, an independent economist, said an economy that grew 2.2 percent in the first half of 1993 is now poised for greater expansion in part on euphoria from a peaceful vote. Read Next Article