MEXICO CITY, Aug. 22 -- Mexico's leading opposition party acknowledged Monday that the ruling party candidate, Ernesto Zedillo, leads in the country's presidential election following quick vote counts. A quick count and exit poll conducted on behalf of the National Chamber of the Radio and Television Industry said Zedillo, of the Institutional Revolutionary Party, led with 50 percent of Sunday's votes, followed by Diego Fernandez de Cevallos of the conservative National Action Party, or PAN, with 27 percent. Cuauhtemoc Cardenas of the Party of the Democratic Revolution, was third with 16 percent of the votes, according to the CIRT poll. PAN president Carlos Castillo said his party's early estimates had Zedillo leading with 48.3 percent of the vote, while the PAN had 37 percent and Cardenas 14.3 percent. Cardenas brushed off the CIRT poll as an 'information coup' and said the quick count 'is not the result of counting votes from the different polling stations.' Cardenas also denounced attacks on voters in the southern state of Chiapas and other parts of the country where people were unable to cast their ballots because their names did not appear on lists at their designated voting places. 'In Chiapas there were, according to reports, police attacks with gas on precisely those voters who were demanding a chance to vote,' Cardenas said at a news conference. 'If we wanted to give figures favorable to us we could also present some surveys carried out today that put me in first place,' Cardenas said.
'I hope we will have more information in the course of this evening and tomorrow, but at all times we will be defending our votes.' Fernandez de Cevallos appeared at PAN party headquarters shortly after midnight where he praised the election, but reserved comment on the figures from the exit poll. 'Our partial data does not correspond to the figures recognized by electoral authorities,' he said in reference to the CIRT poll. Fernandez said that despite progress made, the election was 'inequitable and unjust' from the campaign stage. 'We should point out that we have confronted once again the party- state, once again we have witnessed, with pain and shame, the multi- million (dollar) campaign spending for the ruling party candidate,' he said. But he added, 'except for a few minor cases, I don't know of any violent acts today. It was a peaceful day, a triumph for Mexico, and it must be said, for the parties and for the government.' The Federal Electoral Institute, or IFE, said it would release early official returns once 15 percent of the votes had been counted.