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Now what? Those election results

7 July 2006

I don’t think the ghosts of 1988 are hanging over this election, but there are some troubling aspects to this very close election. With only 243,934 votes separating the first place and second place winners, questions about missing ballot boxes, dubious federal actions and attempted voter suppression are going to linger. I predict that besides the PANistas and the Fox Administration’s overt assistance for Calderón, the “Alianza por el Bien de Todos” (PRD-PT-Convergencia ticket) is going to question how much Rafael Sebastián Guillén Vicente (aka “Subcomandante Marcos) had to do with the narrow victory for the right. After all, Marcos’ “Other Campaign” was vigorously working to keep Lopez Obrador out of the Presidency – ostensively because AMLO is too much like other Latin American leftist (i.e., a realist when dealing with the United States and the World Trade Organization – though I suspect it’s more that the ELZN finds it easier to negotiate with PAN.

I’m not the only one wondering about this much too close election. I think we’re going to see more stories about dumped ballot boxes in the next few days. I didn’t even have to go into the wild world of the Mexican polemical press to find them. The analysis is by a respected talking head… and my references are from regional papers rather than the “usual suspects”… the national dalies and the foreign wire services.

Ballot Boxes In Dump (Reuters)

The daily newspaper El Universal reported 10 ballot boxes and a polling station report were found in a garbage dump in a poor neighbourhood on the edge of Mexico City.
El Universal reports other ballots and tallies in a Xalapa dump.

PRD has reasons for suspicion
(El Universal, 6 July 2006 — my translation)

EL UNIVERSAL analyst Jorge Zepeda Patterson concludes that “the election results are irreversible, but the PRD is within its rights to be suspicious of federal authority’s actions, and of some omissions by IFE.” He added that “we hope that the courts have the flexibility to conduct hearings that will calm the winners as much as the losers.”

Questioned on how the next president will govern in a divided Mexico, Zepeda Patterson said that the divided electorate is not the problem. A more serious concern is that 40% of Mexicans did not vote – that is, only one in four voted FOR Calderón. This is a mandate for a pluralistic, inclusive government, especially one that includes those who espouse the views of his chief opponent – that is, that are “first of all for the poor.”

The analyst emphasized that such a plural government is not necessarily a political coalition, “I do not believe in that type of governments. It is not necessary to create a patchwork of parties” to govern under policies that inclusive, tolerant and democratic.

Asked what foreigners could take away from the elections, Zepada Patterson responded “I believe the impression was reasonably good. It is an enormous test to have a competition this bitter, and there are lessons that were learned. I still insist the Federal Government acted irresponsibly: Fox’s open support in favor of his party’s candidate, the intervention by the PRG [Federal Attorney General’s Office] in the Echeverría matter and in the affairs surrounding the Jalisco candidate Zamora were advance payments on settling electoral debts.”

[MY NOTE: ex-President Luis Echeverría, after several years of inaction by the Federal Prosecutor, was suddenly arrested on genocide and human rights abuse charges; Zamora was tied to narcotics trafficking. In both cases, the “real reason” seems to be to discredit PRI politicians in contested regions. There is coverage in the Matamoros Manaña, in El Expreso (Hermosillo) and other regional media]

On the reaction of the Stock Market (BVM), Zepeda Patterson he admitted that “of course” it responded favorably to the election results, because there is no doubt that Felipe Calderón is the candidate who assures stability in the short term, although he may not be the best option in the long run: unless the government is responsive to the interests of the poor there will be upheaval.
The economist and sociologist also said that the confidence in IFE was buoyed. While the exercise shows an enormous confidence in citizen participation, there is doubt about the moral legitimacy of the Institutes leadership. “We must return to designating citizen advisors who are true notables, of moral authority and irreproachable reputation.

Finally, asked if democracy there isn’t more to democracy than voting, and voter participation, the analyst was “in agreement. We are democratic most of the time, and what we just lived through was a civic celebration of democracy, but now we must turn completely democratic. The problem for us is that we are an electoral democracy but not a political democracy”.

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