Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Mexico Race Getting Ugly

(Updated and Bumped)
AMLO (article in Spanish) says he does not recognize the vote count of the Federal Election Institute, because there are too many inconsistencies. This afternoon he is reported to have shown copies of ballot-box counts that do not match the numbers posted by IFE on the internet. He also alleges that 3 million votes are 'missing;' having apparently been cast for Senate and House candidates, but not for President. Elsewhere, AMLO has been quoted as saying that he has so far held off on asking his supporters to march peacefully in protest. That's a loaded statement.

Assuming that Calderon is eventually declared the winner and takes office, this may wind up a watershed election in Mexican history. After Vicente Fox's election in 2000, many PRI officeholders seemed to regard his win as a 'blip,' and committed themselves to opposing every portion of his agenda, anticipating a return to form in 2006. Well, not only has the PRI not returned to power, but Madrazo got crushed. And the PRI will probably end up with the smallest bloc in both Houses of Congress (as I explained here - after seats are apportioned by proportional representation). Perhaps the opposition will come to recognize that Mexico is no longer a one-party state, and that they need to work with the President.

Also, given the smashing defeat of the PRI, and Calderon's promise to appoint members of the opposition to important government posts, some members of the PRI may decided to switch (to the PAN or PRD) rather than fight. Mexico could ultimately return to a two-party system, without the PRI.

It feels awfully bittersweet to have said in the last few weeks both that Calderon would win, and that the race might be won by whichever side 'counted better.' AMLO might argue that I was right on both.

Also check out Mark in Mexico's disturbing account.

Update: Michael Barone and the Washington Post provide useful summaries of where things stand and what comes next. El Universal offers a sign of progress: Madrazo conceded. A wise move, as he was in 3rd place, about 14 points back.

Update 2: El Universal has compiled the projected totals for each party in the new Mexican Congress. The third and fourth screens show the totals for the House and Senate, respectively. As I suggested earlier, the PAN has the plurality in both chambers, and the PRI is in third place in both - an almost unthinkable result just a few months ago. We shall see if this leads to more 'normal' legislating in Mexico. The PAN will continue to be challenged by its lack of an actual majority in either, and will likely have to work with the rump PRI group to pass reforms.

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