A new control system is currently being developed for the 1.2-meter Mercator Telescope at the Roque de Los Muchachos Observatory (La Palma, Spain). Formerly based on transputers, the new Mercator Observatory Control System (MOCS) consists of a small network of Linux computers complemented by a central industrial controller and an industrial real-time data communication network. Python is chosen as the high-level language to develop flexible yet powerful supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) software for the Linux computers. Specialized applications such as detector control, auto-guiding and middleware management are also integrated in the same Python software package. The industrial controller, on the other hand, is connected to the majority of the field devices and is targeted to run various control loops, some of which are real-time critical. Independently of the Linux distributed control system (DCS), this controller makes sure that high priority tasks such as the telescope motion, mirror support and hydrostatic bearing control are carried out in a reliable and safe way. A comparison is made between different controller technologies including a LabVIEW embedded system, a PROFINET Programmable Logic Controller (PLC) and motion controller, and an EtherCAT embedded PC (soft-PLC). As the latter is chosen as the primary platform for the lower level control, a substantial part of the software is being ported to the IEC 61131-3 standard programming languages. Additionally, obsolete hardware is gradually being replaced by standard industrial alternatives with fast EtherCAT communication. The use of Python as a scripting language allows a smooth migration to the final MOCS: finished parts of the new control system can readily be commissioned to replace the corresponding transputer units of the old control system with minimal downtime. In this contribution, we give an overview of the systems design, implementation details and the current status of the project.