Fwd: FNS Special Report: Mexico's Cliffhanger
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> Date: Tue, 04 Jul 2006 12:10:36 -0600July 4, 2006
> From: fnsnews@...
> Subject: FNS Special Report: Mexicoï¿½s Cliffhanger
> To: fns_nmsu-l@...
Will the Courts Decide Mexico's Presidential Election?
Lodged in a trailing but tight race with arch-rival
Calderon, Mexican presidential candidate Andres Manuel
Lopez Obrador says he will ask the Federal Electoral
Commission (IFE) for a careful, vote-by-vote count of
July 2 balloting when the formal tally commences on
Wednesday, July 5. Mexico's legal election overseer
not yet officially named a winner, but nearly-complete
preliminary results from last Sunday's election
that Calderon holds a one percentage-point lead over
Obrador-a difference of about 400,000 votes.
"All the (exit) polls I knew of yesterday were in
us," said Lopez Obrador in an interview on Mexican
television. While not openly labeling the
election fraudulent, Lopez Obrador said an initial
count that gave Calderon a 7-point lead but then
diminished raises serious questions that need to be
"If we lost the election, I will recognize it," Lopez
Obrador said on national television. Responding to
Obrador's contentions, Cesar Nava Vazquez, the
for Calderon's conservative National Action Party
urged the former Mexico City mayor to throw in the
and call it quits. "In a democracy, you win by one
not to mention more than 400,000 votes," Nava said.
According to the IFE, 59 percent of Mexico's
voters turned out to vote last Sunday, but Lopez
spokesman Horacio Duarte contends the rate of
participation was far less-54 percent. "We have two
hypotheses: someone is adding votes or someone is
them," said Duarte on CNN's Spanish language channel.
President Luis Carlos Ugalde later confirmed that 3
million votes were not included in the preliminary
because of questions about the ballots' veracity.
Coming in the aftermath of Mexico's elimination from
World Soccer Cup, the presidential election was the
major event to jolt the nation in recent days.
were stunned early in the evening of July 2 when IFE
President Luis Carlos Ugalde failed to announce a
presidential vote-getter based on the rapid count.
According to the Mexico's chief election official, a
committee of 5 "scientists" from the national
determined that conditions did not exist to make a
"The IFE has done a very professional job," Ugalde
countered, "and what's happened is that the voters
decided to vote the way they have and there is a tie."
Headlined "Tie," an extra edition of Mexico City's El
Universal daily hit the streets within hours. The July
edition of the Excelsior daily was simply
headlined: "Who?" Comparisons to the 2000 Bush-Gore
deadlock in Florida were quickly heard.
Contrary to earlier appeals from the IFE that urged
candidates to not make premature statements, both
and Lopez Obrador were proclaiming themselves the
by the late in the evening of July 2. Exercising
the Calderon campaign kept a leash on its supporters
an expected victory celebration at Mexico City's Angel
Independence Monument did not materialize. However,
thousands of Lopez Obrador supporters sped through
City's streets honking their horns and braving the
drizzle that dampened the night to celebrate in the
capital city's Zocalo.
At first, news of the election toss-up unbalanced the
financial world. The peso immediately dropped in
but recovered on July 3 along with the Mexican stock
market. Boosted by news of Calderon's continuing lead,
Monday's stock market registered its second biggest
In contrast to the presidential race, clear winners
emerged in the federal congressional election. The big
loser was the former ruling Institutional Party of the
Revolution (PRI), which fell to third place.
National Action Party (PAN) became the "first
force in the new congress, followed by the three
making up Lopez Obrador's For the Good of All
Two smaller parties, the New Alliance Party (PANAL)
the Alternative Social Democrat and Farmers Party led
feminist Patricia Mercado, apparently attracted enough
votes to maintain their registrations and win
representation in the congress. "We were the biggest
surprise of the federal elections," said Roberto
the PANAL's gleeful presidential candidate
The tightness of the presidential race supports the
that every count counts, but many votes that were
last Sunday's election will not be counted. Posted
July 3, the preliminary results reported that more
800,000 ballots were annulled. Mexican election law
permits ballots to be tossed out if a voter sloppily
a space or commits another mistake that raises doubts
about the intention of vote. The initial percentage of
discarded ballots on July 2 was slightly more than two
percent of the total votes cast, a figure similar to
previous elections, according to the IFE.
Another serious, recurring problem cropped up on July
Many people who tried to vote simply could not. As in
elections, the IFE set up more than 800 special voting
precincts for people who were away from home. Despite
growing population and an increased mobility in
Mexican law has limited each special precinct to 750
ballots in order to guard against fraud. Press
from geographic zones scattered throughout Mexico
thousands of people were unable to vote at the special
precincts because the ballots ran out, usually by
In Mexico City, a long line made up of people from
Chihuahua, Tamaulipas, Sonora, Durango, Veracruz, and
other states snaked around a full city block in front
the Zocalo, where special precincts were installed.
Interviewed by Frontera NorteSur, several people
waiting several hours to cast their votes; others
they were being turned away.
Mexico City resident Maria Refugio Diaz said that
officials suggested sher try the special precincts
her name did not appear on the voter list in her
precinct, though she had obtained a voter
card one year earlier. "My vote doesn't count,"
Saying he rose bright and early, Luis Gerardo Espinoza
Escalante wasn't impressed with the gripes. "I
like these elections in Mexico to be seen abroad as
turbulent," Espinosa told Frontera NorteSur. "I came
and cast my vote...the people who are lazy and don't
up early can't vote because this is a special precinct
they will have the bad luck that the ballots run out."
As Zapatista Sub-Comandante Marcos puffed away on his
trademark pipe during an anti-election rally
simultaneously underway in the Zocalo, tension and
erupted across the street in front of the special
precints. "Defrauded!" protested a chorus of hopeful
voters as speeches blasting the election and the
attack on residents of San Salvador Atenco last May
drifted over the crowd from the sound system in the
In the next act, the IFE is expected to declare a
presidential election winner sometime later this week.
the declared victor is Calderon as expected, analysts
Daniel Tacher, a representative of the
organization Civic Alliance, anticipate that the Lopez
Obrador camp will take matters one step further and
legally challenge the election in court. In Mexico,
legal authority with the final say-so is the Federal
Election Tribunal. According to Tacher, the tribunal
then have until early September to render a decision
who will be Mexico's next president.
Additional sources: El Universal, July 2 and 3, 2006.
Univision/Unicable, Televisa, July 2, 3 and 4, 2006.
Azteca, July 2, 2006. Excelsior, July 3, 2006. La
July 3, 2006. Articles by Fabiola Martinez, Alonso
Urrutia, Jesus Aranda, Elizabeth Velsaco C., Matile
and editorial staff. CNN en Espaï¿½ol, July 3, 2006.
Frontera NorteSur (FNS): on-line, U.S.-Mexico border
Center for Latin American and Border Studies
New Mexico State University
Las Cruces, New Mexico
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