MEXICO CITY — Gathered at the site of soccer victories and other national triumphs, thousands of Vicente Fox supporters celebrated the overthrow of the political party that has monopolized Mexico's presidency for 71 years.
The streets leading to the Angel of Independence monument on this capital's main boulevard were cordoned off to traffic as a chanting crowd filled the area.
The mood was nearly as festive at the Zocalo, the city's main plaza, where the center-left Democratic Revolution Party faithful rejoiced over a double consolation prize: their mayoral candidate's apparent victory here in the capital and the loss of the presidency by the long-ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI.
In contrast, the mood at the PRI headquarters was one of denial that slowly turned to depression over the realization that what was once Mexico's official party had been denied the country's two most important elective offices.
At the Angel of Independence monument, Fox supporters wore fake mustaches in tribute to their candidate. The subdued mood early in the evening turned to jubilation as the crowd became convinced that their candidate had won.
As President Ernesto Zedillo's recognition of the Fox victory was broadcast on big-screen television, people jumped for joy and sprayed foam on each other. Earlier, cheers broke out as a 20-foot poster of PRI candidate Francisco Labastida was ripped from the wires that suspended it between two lampposts near the monument.
One supporter who did not need a fake mustache was Enrique Haro, a 36-year-old electrical engineer. Nearly 6 feet tall, Haro looked like a slightly smaller version of Fox, wearing the bluejeans and open-necked shirt that the candidate favored during the campaign.
Haro said he felt "profound relief" over Fox's victory. "It will be very hard for him, but he can make some fundamental changes in six years," Haro said. "He can dismantle the PRI's network of corruption."
Adriana Trujillo, a 38-year-old homemaker who brought her teenage son and daughter to the rally, said, "We need this change badly--we need fresh air, new people in power."
Yet, even supporters appeared a bit stunned by Fox's victory.
Francisco Colin, a 45-year-old who runs a bookstall with his wife, Estela, tempered his approval with caution.
"It is a bit worrying because people have all voted for a magic word: 'change,' " said Colin, who carried a blue-and-white flag of Fox's National Action Party, or PAN, at his side. "We all know that it is a vote against the PRI, but nobody knows what it is actually for."
Colin said he was glad that Fox won but was also worried that Mexico could suffer instability in the coming 12 months. "This vote has disrupted the equilibrium in Mexico between rich and poor. Fox may cut subsidies and a lot of poor people will suffer," he said.
Nevertheless, his wife gleefully waved her flag and said Fox "is honest and will do what he has promised."
Many supporters of Democratic Revolution Party candidate Cuauhtemoc Cardenas, who finished a distant third in his third attempt to win the presidency, said Fox was their second choice.
"It is a great step forward," said Jose Rivera, a 57-year-old shopkeeper and father of four grown children who was among about 1,500 PRD supporters gathered at the Zocalo.
"I would have preferred a Cardenas victory, but thank God the PRI did not win," he said.
Consuelo Romo, 55, a supervisor with the city's Metro subway system, agreed. "We needed a change, and that is the most important thing."
However, she was worried about Fox. "He will do a lot of good things," she said, "but basically he will help the wealthy."
In the parking lot of the towering PRI headquarters, about 1,000 party faithful tried to keep up a strong facade, chanting slogans and clapping as they waited for an appearance by their presidential candidate, Francisco Labastida, who would later concede defeat.
"The mood is one of worry," said Carlos Aceves, a 58-year-old candidate for the lower house of Congress. "It's not favorable, but it's not the last word."
Carlos Perez, a 39-year-old federal employee in the state of San Luis Potosi, said: "We have confidence that when the results from the countryside come in, it will be a different thing."
But supporters already were losing hope as they saw the poll results giving Fox a comfortable margin of victory and Labastida recognized that the poll tendencies were not favorable for him.
"He's paying for the sins of his predecessors," said Marco Antonio Centeno, 42, a leader in a union of government employees.
"I'm disappointed in the entire country," said Dulce Elia Garcia, a 31-year-old homemaker from the working-class suburb of Tlanepantla.
Simeon Taegel contributed to this report.