Mexican Election Chaos
by Chris Bowers, Mon Jul 10, 2006 at 06:24:03 AM EDT
The former leftwing mayor of Mexico City rallied 150,000 followers on Saturday to press for a recount of the presidential election, which his supporters believe was stolen. The official count of the July 2 presidential poll gave the governing party candidate, Felipe Calderón, a victory of about 0.6%, or less than 244,000 votes. The count was based on adding up the vote tally sheets from polling stations on election night. The rallies seem to be getting larger than the figure cited above. Legal challenges loom: Mexico's young democracy entered uncharted territory Sunday as the Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD) put the finishing touches on what officials said would be 152 lawsuits aimed at overturning results of the July 2 presidential election.
Top leaders of Mexico's left-leaning party, known by its Spanish initials PRD, are challenging the count in all 300 of Mexico's electoral districts. Sunday was the opening shot fired in what is sure to be a nasty legal battle to challenge conservative Felipe Calderon's narrow 0.58 percent margin of victory.These challenges could lead to a Constitutional crisis in Mexico López Obrador added a new layer of complexity to the crisis by saying he not only would challenge the results in the country's special elections court but also would attempt to have the election declared illegal by Mexico's Supreme Court. That strategy presages a constitutional confrontation because according to many legal experts the special elections court is the only body that can hear election challenges.: Now, Lopez Obrador has produced some rather stunning evidence: MEXICO'S disputed election took another startling turn when leftist candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador produced telephone recordings he said proved a plot between rival political parties to deny him the presidency.
In a dramatic moment during a massive rally in Mexico's largest public square at the weekend, members of Mr Lopez Obrador's campaign played the recordings over loudspeakers.
"The group that has political and economic power is accustomed to winning at all costs," Mr Lopez Obrador told the crowd, which police estimated at 280,000. "The only thing that matters to them is their privileges."
The two recordings were said to be of conversations between a state governor belonging to the rival Institutional Revolutionary Party (known as the PRI), a union leader in the PRI and a minister in the Government of current Mexican President Vicente Fox, who represents the conservative National Action Party.
The conversations, which allegedly took place on election day before vote counting began, implied that the PRI would try to fraudulently swing votes in favour of conservative candidate Felipe Calderon because it was clear the PRI's candidate would not win.
The phone conversations are the closest thing Mr Lopez Obrador, the leader of the leftist Democratic Revolutionary Party, has had to a smoking gun in his effort to prove fraud in the presidential election held on July 2. Whether or not there was fraud, I don't know (how could I know?) However, there is an interesting precedent in this election: Mr Lopez Obrador has used protests in the Zocalo, the central square in front of the National Palace in Mexico City, to great effect in the past.
Last year, he mobilised more than a million supporters to protest against an attempt to disqualify him from the presidential race over a minor land dispute.
In the wake of the public display, Mr Fox backed off, paving the way for Mr Lopez Obrador's candidacy. The leftist remains wildly popular in Mexico City, where he served as mayor from 2000 to last year. Anyone who thinks this is over is not paying attention. Anyone who thinks that whoever eventually becomes President will have an easy time is crazy. This is going to be a long, hot summer in Mexico:HIS election provoked wails of grief and cries of "fraud!" in Mexico's slums and impoverished countryside. In upmarket neighbourhoods and boardrooms his apparent victory induced deep sighs of relief.
If he withstands legal challenges, president-elect Felipe Calderon will preside over a country that hasn't been this openly divided since the bloody, 10-year Mexican Revolution of 1910.
The closest election in Mexico's history has ripped open long festering differences that separate Mexico into north and south, rich and poor, light-skinned and dark-skinned, employee and employer. The implications of this election are massive. Fasten your seatbelts.