Friday, July 07, 2006

Mexico Prepares for a Rough Stretch

It looks like AMLO is committed to creating as much disruption as possible between now and the time that Felipe Calderon is officially certified as the President-elect of Mexico. Mary Anastasia O'Grady of the Wall Street Journal (subscription required), confirms what Mark in Mexico stated the other day about AMLO's surprising lead through much of the vote count:

I didn't see any reason for Mr. Calderón to be lying about this and independent observers confirmed it too. But at 9 on Wednesday evening, with 81% of the country's polling stations reporting, Mr. López Obrador had a lead of two percentage points and my phone started to ring. Mexicans were beginning to wonder about the preliminary count on Sunday that showed the PAN victorious. The only places I found total calm were at the PAN campaign headquarters and among electoral wonks who assured me that Sunday tallies would hold and that time would prove the Calderón victory.

The problem, as it finally emerged, was in the flow of polling-station reports. What we had seen late on Wednesday evening were reports from this city and other PRD strongholds. Tally sheets from polling stations in heavily pro-PAN states were being held back.

It now seems that these delays, which were later confirmed, were not an accident. While it is true that many of the pro-PAN states lie to the west of the country, two hours behind the capital, even that doesn't account for the enormous distortions in reporting into the wee hours of Thursday. For example, at 1:30 a.m., when most states had either closed their books or reported more than 90% of polling station results, the heavily Panista states of Nuevo Leon, Guanajato, Baja California and Sonora still had less than 90% of their polling stations reporting. Word went out that PRD polling station officials in these states were dragging their feet in signing off on the tally sheets. The clear objective was to give Mexicans the impression that AMLO had secured a victory, only to have it pulled from him in the dark of the night.

She also notes that AMLO is getting ready to unleash mob activism, in the hopes of having the election annulled:
Mexico now has a president-elect. But AMLO, who came in second in both the Sunday count and the Wednesday recount, says that he will not accept the results. In a press conference yesterday, he announced that a "manipulation" of the results is "evident" and accused the independent Federal Electoral Institute of working in cahoots with Mr. Calderón. That speech, it seems clear, was not meant for the ears of election officials or even the electoral court but for his followers. AMLO appears intent on persuading them, as is his stock in trade, that they have once again been cheated by the system.

...Another concern is whether the PRD will gin up a violent reaction to this defeat. Mob disturbances have been an AMLO staple for most of his career. And while this time it could cost him dearly in this conservative nation, he may also see it as his last chance to salvage his hope to wear the presidential sash. Six years from now, the presidential aspirations of both the son of the legendary Cuauhtemoc Cardenas, who is a well-respected governor of Michoacan and the newly elected mayor of this city, could make another AMLO candidacy for the PRD a long shot.

Should Mr. López Obrador decide to put all his money on the slim chance he can prevail, his infamous modus operandi of mob activism during his early career in the southern state of Tabasco and later as the mayor of this city may give guidance about what Mexicans are in for. Indeed, he seems to have been training for this mission for some time.

Calderon is handling this situation well, so far. He has consistently called for adherence to the law, and he has said several times that he would welcome AMLO into his cabinet, probably to a social welfare position. Today it's reported that he's asked for a meeting with AMLO, to talk about how to move the country forward. He's asked the other parties to recommend their programs, so that he can go forward with a program 'that won't be my program but Mexico's program - a program of coalition government.' In return, he's asked for support from the other parties, so he'll have a Congressional majority to 'go forward with the reforms that Mexico needs.'

He also says that he has not yet spoken with President Fox, to forestall accusations of a conspiracy.

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