Copyrighted material


by Adrian Reyes

on Mexico's election crisis

(IPS) MEXICO CITY -- The left in Mexico is aiming its artillery at President Vicente Fox in its demand for a total recount of the vote, which the top electoral court has already ruled out, while keeping up the pressure on the court with street blockades in the capitol despite the irritation of businesses and the public.

Business leaders in Mexico City have lashed out at the camps that protesters supporting the leftist coalition "For the Good of All" have set up in city squares and streets, which are blocking shopping and tourist activities, and they have called for the resignation of leftwing Mayor Alejandro Encinas, whom they accuse of placing political interests before those of local residents and businesses.

The business community has not yet calculated the losses they have sustained through the drop in sales and cancellation of reservations for hotel rooms in the city's main tourist district.

Dante Delgado, the president of the small Convergence party which forms part of the coalition backing presidential candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, urged his followers to attend all public rallies where Fox puts in an appearance, to demand a full recount and criticize the president's "meddling" in the Jul. 2 elections.

The president's spokesman, Ruben Aguilar, replied Monday that Fox would not modify his agenda despite the opposition's threats. He said the Fox administration had opened the way for citizens to exercise their constitutional rights, especially those related to free speech and the right of assembly.

He also announced that Fox would present the sixth and last report on his administration to Congress on Sept. 1, three months before handing the reins over to Felipe Calderon (who belongs to the ruling National Action Party -- PAN) or Lopez Obrador, depending on who the electoral court designates as president-elect.

On Sunday, Lopez Obrador, the leftwing coalition's candidate, once again rejected the resolution adopted Saturday by the electoral court, which ruled out a total recount of the votes cast Jul. 2 and ordered instead the opening of ballot boxes from 11,839 polling stations, just nine percent of the total.

Speaking to thousands of his followers in the capital's Zocalo plaza, the head of the leftist Democratic Revolution Party (PRD) stated that civil resistance would continue, and apologized to local residents, shopkeepers and the business community for the obstruction of traffic.

Lopez Obrador said the struggle he is leading is aiming to prevent a step backwards for democracy in Mexico, which is why he will continue demanding a vote-by-vote recount, which he said is the only way to be sure that no fraud has been committed.

Calderon said in his turn that the present electoral system "has run its course," and suggested that work should begin on reforming it. In addition, he said he was confident that the partial recount ordered by the electoral court would ratify his victory.

According to the preliminary tally by the Federal Electoral Institute (IFE) which was responsible for organising and carrying out the elections, Calderon received 0.58 percent more of the ballots than Lopez Obrador, out of a total of more than 41 million votes. IFE thus declared Calderon the winner, although only the electoral court has the authority to designate a president-elect.

"Our institutions proved solid enough to overcome the antidemocratic, anarchistic and intolerant forces that threatened them, (but) it is also true, and must be admitted, that our electoral system is showing signs of wearing out," Calderon said in a speech to legislators-elect belonging to his party.

Former election officials Eduardo Huchim and Jesus Cantu both said separately that the partial recount of votes ordered by the electoral court were a victory for Lopez Obrador's demands.

The court resolution acknowledged that there were inconsistencies in the electoral results from something over nine percent of the polling stations. Depending on the magnitude of these discrepancies, either more polling stations will have to have their votes recounted, or the elections will be declared transparent and clean.

The electoral court ruling drew immediate support from the PAN, the small Social Alternative Party, and the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), which governed Mexico for seven decades until 2000 but slipped to third place in the Jul. 2 elections.

Lorenzo Cordova, with the Institute of Judicial Investigations at the state National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), has also suggested that the leftwing coalition should cease to apply pressure on the magistrates and wait for the results of the partial recount.

Josefina Vazquez Mota, a former minister of social development who managed Calderon's election campaign, called on Lopez Obrador to accept the court's decision and not to destroy the political capital his party won in the election.

She pointed out that the PRD has moved up from being the third largest party in Mexico to second place, with strong representation in Congress, but said that in her opinion, "that political capital could be lost" through the continued protests in the streets led by Lopez Obrador.

PAN spokesman Cesar Nava also called on all political parties to get over their resentments and start forming a coalition government.

Although there is no president-elect as yet, Nava and Vazquez Mota are in the forefront of preparations for the transition. Along with Calderon, they are holding meetings with business leaders, union leaders and coordinators of civil society organizations, and are agreeing commitments about their work for the 2006-2012 period.

The partial vote recount will take place Aug. 9-13 in 26 out of Mexico's 31 states, with the participation of members of the electoral court, Supreme Court magistrates, and representatives of the political parties.

The electoral court has until Aug. 31 to rule on legal challenges, and until Sept. 6 to annul the election or declare a president-elect. The inauguration of the new president will take place Dec. 1 in Congress.

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Albion Monitor   August 7, 2006   (

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