Mexican Election Chaos

In an election with the polls this close, with such great differences between the two candidates, with massive class and cultural differences between the supporters of the two candidates, in a country with a history of rigged elections (though mainly carried about by PRI, the party that finished in third place), something like this was almost bound to happen. From the Guardian: Mexico's hero of the downtrodden, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, has ordered nationwide marches to converge on the capital on Sunday in what could be the biggest demonstration in modern Mexican history.

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.

Bush v. Gore ... with Cilantro?

Cross Posted at The Great Society

Over the past week or two I became clued into the election happening in Mexico. The countries politics still live in the shadow of 71 years with a single eminent political party (the PRI, or Institutional Revolutionary Party), yet the PRI will continue to lose power for the second straight election. Two days after the election ... that is about all that is clear . The two candidates outside the PRI are the rightist Felipe Calderon (of the PAN, National Action Party) and leftist Andrés Manuel Lopez Obrador (of the PRD, Democratic Revolutionary Party). The race between that has been so bitter and incisive that is has been called the dirtiest election in Mexican history. Not surprising is that Calderon has brought in Texas based political consultant Rob Allyn (of George W. Bush in 2000 fame) to run his day to day operations and advising from none other than Dick Morris. As Dan Lund pointed out in a editorial in the Miami Herald:

Morris is the guy who claims to have written the "campaign book" for Fox in 1999-2000, and is now spreading tail feathers about his role in the Felipe Calderón campaign...

The book is that of a relentless negative campaign, using all forms of media, electronic and informal -- all, at a cost that simply cannot be met by other campaigns. This campaign book has become the choreography of a strange Morris dance that enables the very different factions and interests to hold together and focus on the real enemy, namely Andrés Manuel López Obrador.>

Obrador, the former mayor of Mexico City, came in to the election as one of those most popular figures in Mexican politics. Yet, Calderon has been relentless. He often compared Obrador to Hugo Chavez and even Fidel Castro.

There's more...

Lopez Obrador Leads in Recount of Election!

Bumped from the diaries -- Jonathan. Consider this an open thread on the Mexican election, foreign elections in general or Latin American politics.

According to Mexican Newspaper Universal with 80% of the votes recounted AMLO (Lopez Obrador) now leads Calderon 36.69% to 34.67%

I am afraid I can't read Spanish very well so I won't know much else until my Mexican husband gets home- but since this is getting no press as far as I can tell in the American press I thought people might want to know this exciting news!

If any of you know more please add info in the comments.

There's more...

Mexican Elections Thread

This is it. The biggest election since November, 2004. You can follow the returns here (if you have a better website, say so). Post your thoughts in the comments.

Update: Here is a better link. With 20% of the vote in, PAN candidate Calderon (right-wing, Clintonista) leads PRD candidate Obrador (left-wing, possibly pseudo populist) 38.91--35.50. The early results heavily favored PAN, and more recent returns have been pro PRD, so the lead might be temporary. Exit polls indicate too close to call. Ten thousand diebold commenters claim fraud instantly.

Update 2: Here is another link. The slow trend toward Lopex Obrador continues. Will it be enough?

There's more...

Mexico To Follow Leftist Latin Trend?

The second most important election this year undoubtedly takes place one week from today. Meixco, which is among the top ten nations in the world in terms of population, gross national income, and land area, would be the piece de resistance (pun intended) on the general Latin American trend to the left already witnessed in Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Peru and Venezuela. The election looks close:A week before they go to the polls to pick a new president, Mexican voters are sharply divided between a firebrand populist who promises to lift up the poor and an establishment conservative who embraces free markets and U.S.-style capitalism.

For the first time in modern history, the once dominant PRI, or Institutional Revolutionary Party, is running a distant third and appears to have little chance of recapturing the presidency.

Opinion surveys released Friday -- the last day political polls legally could be published here ahead of next Sunday's balloting -- showed a statistical dead heat between leftist Andrés Manuel López Obrador and conservative Felipe Calderón.

The Reforma and Universal newspapers, perhaps the capital's most influential, each gave López Obrador 36 percent to Calderón's 34 percent, with the PRI's Roberto Madrazo getting just a quarter of the vote.

Averaging 14 major polls conducted in June, political analyst Rafael Gimenez Valdés calculated that just a half percentage point separates the top two candidates. ``I think the election is absolutely up in the air,'' Gimenez Valdés said.

Other analysts, including María de Las Heras, who projected President Vicente Fox's upset victory in 2000, give the edge to López Obrador. At a gathering of pollsters Friday at the Colegio de Mexico here, de las Heras predicted López Obrador would win by five points, in part because he has racked up a significant surplus of independent voters.

Only a few more big rallies are planned: By law, all campaigning and advertising must cease after Wednesday. Calderon's final rally is scheduled for today at Mexico City's Azteca Stadium. López Obrador's final event is Wednesday in Mexico City's main square, the Zócalo. In Latin America, a wholesale rejection of both neo-conservatism and neo-liberalism appears to be under way (again, pun intended). As more and more governments in Latin America turn to the left, it is becoming possible to envision an entirely different direction for the region, one where, among other things, the United States has significantly less economic influence. That this has taken place under the watch of an administration filled with people determined to create "a new American century," goes to show exactly what the Bush administration has really done to the reputation of America in other counties. That voters are rejecting neo-liberal trade policies that we were all told would lift Latin America out of poverty I think goes to show that those policies did not benefit the majority of people in Latin America after all.

For more information on this election, check out Technorati and Google News.

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