Mexican court upholds moderate leftist's victory
By ALEXANDRA OLSON, Associated Press Writer
MEXICO CITY – A Mexican court upheld a moderate's victory in disputed leadership elections that deeply split the country's main leftist party two years after it nearly won the presidency.
The Federal Electoral Court's ruling Wednesday, which is final, favored Jesus Ortega, who is at odds with former presidential candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador over whether the Democratic Revolution Party, or PRD, should cooperate with the government.
Lopez Obrador claims that President Felipe Calderon of the conservative National Action Party stole the 2006 election through fraud and insists the PRD should treat the government as illegitimate. He has the support of Alejandro Encinas, who had challenged Ortega for the PRD leadership.
Ortega and Encinas accused each other's supporters of vote-buying, intimidation and ballot-stuffing in the March leadership elections. The dispute was an embarrassment to the party that had waged huge protests over the alleged presidential election fraud.
A PRD commission had annulled election results indicating Ortega won, arguing there was no way to verify the outcome. Ortega appealed.
Lopez Obrador, a former Mexico City mayor, lost the presidency to Calderon by less than 1 percentage point. He calls himself the legitimate president of Mexico and still commands loyalty among many poor Mexicans, particularly in the capital.
But his street rallies have thinned out as many of his sympathizers resign themselves to Calderon's presidency. And in a sign of his shaky influence in his own party, many PRD lawmakers backed an oil reform bill that Lopez Obrador has bitterly opposed, albeit after winning key concessions from the Calderon government.
Encinas denounced the court ruling, suggesting the Calderon government influenced the decision in exchange for PRD support of the oil-reform bill.
"It was a political decision made during the resolution of the oil reform and the 2009 budget," Encinas said in a statement.
Ortega countered that "justice was done."
"It's time to close this difficult, complex and torturous chapter," he said at a news conference. "I'm taking firm steps to reconcile and unite the PRD."
The PRD split — and discontent with the Calderon government over a sluggish economy and rising crime — has fueled talk of a comeback for the Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, which ruled Mexico for 71 consecutive years until 2000.
PRD divisions recently helped PRI mayoral candidates win in the major tourist centers of Acapulco and Zihuatanejo.