Wednesday, September 06, 2006

What next for Mexico?

Back in July, Mexico went to the polls to elect a new President. The result was close - very close - and following allegations of fraud, defeated candidate Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) and his followers took to the streets to demand a ballot-by-ballot recount. Meanwhile, the results were also challenged in the Federal Electoral Tribunal. Last night, the tribunal delivered its ruling, upholding the result and declaring Felipe Calderon the winner. While they found some discrepancies in the count, they were not deemed to have affected the overall result.

There are problems with this, notably the high level of secrecy surrounding the Tribunal's recount procedures and findings. In early August, the Tribunal ordered a recount of some 12,000 ballot boxes, resulting in the annulment of an unspecified number containing around 238,000 votes, and a slight shift in the overall totals away from Calderon. But details of exactly what the recount showed about the annulled boxes have not been released, and neither have corrected box-by-box tallies (meanwhile, Mexican TV reports of the procedure used are disturbing, to say the least). Against a backdrop of widespread, but one-sided discrepancies [PDF], and a history of election fraud by those in power, this encourages suspicion, rather than reducing it.

Democracy requires the utmost transparency in election processes, so that everyone can see they are fair. This is even more important when the results are disputed. Unfortunately, Mexico's election system has failed this basic test, and so suspicions are going to linger, regardless of what those in authority say.

The question now is whether AMLO and the PDR will accept the ruling, or whether their supporters will continue their campaign of protests and disruption. Currently, AMLO is threatening to establish a "parallel government", and has called for a convention of his followers in Mexico City on Independence Day in two week's time. They certainly have justification to call for a full and transparent recount and a reform of election law to ensure that results can be seen to be fair - but to go further? I'm not so sure. It may be better for Mexico's left to wait until next time, and use this as a rallying cry, rather than risk pushing things now.


This comment has been removed by a blog administrator. Posted by Bomber : 9/06/2006 07:40:00 PM

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator. Posted by Bomber : 9/06/2006 07:43:00 PM

Savant, over at Tumeke, we have been following the fraud in Mexico as well, what do you make of the ChoicePoint connection? Greg Palast from the Guardian has written some amazing reports on how ChoicePoint stole the Florida election in 2000 for Bush and their involvement in Mexico raises some interesting questions. As does the comments by Zapatista Subcomandante Marcos before the election that the conditions within Mexico are the same as they were at the time of the 1994 uprising - your thoughts?

Posted by Bomber : 9/06/2006 07:46:00 PM

At some point you recognise that even a corrupt and illegal govt is better than ungovernable disunity.

Posted by Anonymous : 9/06/2006 10:15:00 PM