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Thursday, July 6, 2006
Counts, recounts, and the Mexican election
By Matthew Shugart (guestblogger) @ 6:53 pm

I feel bad that Steven had to interrupt his vacation (or rather his post-Magic Kingdom recovery vacation-within-a-vacation) to report on Mexico, all because his guest-blogging election-watcher was temporarily off line. The following is a much abridged version of a more detailed planting (with graphs) at Fruits & Votes.

We now have multiple pieces of evidence that Calderón won in a squeaker: Most of the exit polls (though none were released on election night), the IFE’s own “quick count” sample on election night, the preliminary summation of district-level polling reports (the PREP), and now the official result.

This does not mean that Calderón is the President-Elect of Mexico, however. Under Mexican law, López Obrador (”AMLO”) has a right to bring evidence of fraud to the TRIFE, which is the high court for election appeals. (Mexico has the very good sense, unlike its neighbor to the north, not only to have an independent professional election-administration agency, the IFE, but also to separate the process of election-dispute adjudication from the regular court system.) The TRIFE has invalidated elections before, although never a presidential election.

AMLO alleges irregularities, and that is his right. If he has a case, the TRIFE can impose a remedy. Democracy can wait. It is better to get it right than to rush to stop legal challenges and possibly install the wrong candidate, as has happened elsewhere in the very recent past (as indeed in Mexico in 1988, probably, in the “pr-IFE” days).

It is worth noting that to call the count that took place on 5 July and through to the early morning hours today a “recount” is actually a misnomer. True, in the literal sense that the ballots were individually tallied on election night to produce polling-place reports (actas), and that these actas were then reviewed and some ballot boxes reopened and counted again, it was a “recount.”

However, it was not a recount in the sense that that term is understood in the USA. It was legally mandated and was the only official count. All that preceded it was preliminary. In US states, on the other hand, a recount is a procedure that a trailing candidate is entitled to demand in a close result after the official certification of a final result. Mexico’s “recount” was the official final result, and now the process of contesting (and perhaps obtaining from the TRIFE a full recount) begins.

AMLO has called a demonstration in Mexico City’s Zócalo (central square) for Saturday to press his demands for a recount “voto por voto.” Manuel Camacho Solís, one of AMLO’s top campaign officials, denies that the PRD seeks to anull the election (as the PAN has been charging).

I am not in the business of making predictions, but I suspect that AMLO “has” to do this-given his and his party’s history and the closeness of an election that he had been expected to win until polls tightened this spring-but that he has a weak case legally and little stomach for a major fight in the streets. Public opinion is likely to turn against him and the party if they press the matter too far, much as public opinion turned decisively towards him when the Fox Administration (through Fox’s originally expected successor as PAN candidate, then-Minister of the Interior Santiago Creel) and the PRI tried to have him barred from running over an alleged incident of corruption in AMLO’s administration of Mexico City. Unless the PAN has become Mexico’s new dominant party-and, with just over a third of the votes and a drop of around five percentage points compared to 2000, there is little evidence of that-the PRD stands an excellent chance of winning in 2012. It is not that far away! In the meantime, they have held on to the Mexico City mayorship in Sunday’s election. Mexico’s various states have elections on different cycles, and several are coming up where the PRD could retain or gain governorships. Additionally, the party won just under a third of the lower-chamber seats on Sunday and may well gain more in the 2009 midterm election (as opposition parties usually do). In short, unless the party’s case is much better than what it now seems, it will likely lose and return to its role as a loyal opposition, ready to fight another day.

The TRIFE has two months to review challenges and declare a winner, and its decision is final. The next president will be inaugurated in December.

Filed under: Latin America, Elections | |Send TrackBack

Pros and Cons linked with Mark in Mexico on the Mexican election
Outside The Beltway | OTB linked with Calderón Wins Mexico Vote
PoliBlog: A Rough Draft of my Thoughts » More on Mexico linked with [...] re he addressed his angry and defiant supporters in Mexico City’s central plaza. As Matthew Shugart has noted, AMLO has a political need to protest this vote, yet he also has sufficient incenti [...]
Pros and Cons » Mark in Mexico on the Mexican election linked with [...] quite wrong. And there’s more, lots more. Really. Of course, there is also Poliblogger. No Comments » No comments yet. R [...]


  1. Calderón Wins Mexico Vote

    Felipe Calderón, the candidate of incumbent president Vicente Fox’s National Action Party (PAN), has been declared the winner of Mexico’s presidential election by the country’s independent election commission:
    After days of unc…

    Trackback by Outside The Beltway | OTB — Friday, July 7, 2006 @ 1:13 am

  2. Matthew,

    Not to worry: I am enough of an elections geek/computer geek/blogging addict that sitting around scanning the news and posting that without anything else to worry about qualified as a vacation activity!

    Comment by Dr. Steven Taylor — Friday, July 7, 2006 @ 8:40 am

  3. Steven, that’s shocking. :-)

    Comment by Matthew Shugart (Guestblogger) — Friday, July 7, 2006 @ 9:52 am

  4. Mark in Mexico on the Mexican election

    I don’t know why I hadn’t thought of him before but Mark in Mexico is an excellent source of news on “AMLO versus the scheming, grasping, capitalist world, with it’s rules, fair play, order and modernity” - or whatever h…

    Trackback by Pros and Cons — Friday, July 7, 2006 @ 12:34 pm

  5. […] quite wrong. And there’s more, lots more. Really. Of course, there is also Poliblogger.

    No Comments

    No comments yet.

    R […]

    Pingback by Pros and Cons » Mark in Mexico on the Mexican election — Friday, July 7, 2006 @ 12:34 pm

  6. […] re he addressed his angry and defiant supporters in Mexico City’s central plaza. As Matthew Shugart has noted, AMLO has a political need to protest this vote, yet he also has sufficient incenti […]

    Pingback by PoliBlog: A Rough Draft of my Thoughts » More on Mexico — Sunday, July 9, 2006 @ 10:55 am

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