The results of the July 2 presidential elections in Mexico are still considered too close to call, but both candidates—former Mexico City mayor Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador of the populist-left Democratic Revolution Party (PRD) and former energy minister Felipe Calderon of the technocratic-right National Action Party (PAN)—are claiming victory. The New York Times quoted Lopez Obrador saying he would repect the decision of the Federal Electoral Institute, while also insisting he had won by 500,000 votes. “This result is irreversible,” he said. Countered Calderon: “There is not the slightest doubt that we have won the election.”
Luis Ugalde, head of the Electoral Institute, appeared twice on national television to urge candidates and their supporters to wait for official results. President Vicente Fox also addressed the nation, pleading with voters to heed the commission’s decision. “It’s the responsibility of all political actors to respect the law,” he said. But Lopez Obrador told thousands of supporters in Mexico City’s central square: “We are going to demonstrate that we won and they have to respect our victory.”
The third candidate—former Tabasco state governor Roberto Madrazo of the Institional Revolutionary Party (PRI), the entrenched political machine that governed from 1929 to 2000—is trailing the two front-runners.
It has been a dirty campaign, with Lopez Obrador accusing Calderon of being part of a political elite that profits at the expense of the many. “There cannot be a rich government and a poor people,” Lopez Obrador said repeatedly in his campaign speeches, pledging to root out corruption and waste. Calderon has countered that Lopez Obrador’s programs would lead to more debt and an economic collapse, instead calling for neoliberal prescriptions: slashing corporate taxes, encouraging more foreign investment, and allowing private partnerships in the state oil company. “I want a winning Mexico,” he said.
Lopez Obrador in February attacked President Fox for using the bully pulpit of his office to campaign for Calderon, comparing the president to a twittering tropical bird called a “chachalaca” and telling him to “shut up.”
Calderon’s campaign, in turn, ran ads showing Venezuela’s populist President Hugo Chavez, insulting Fox side by side with Lopez Obrador’s diss. The Calderon campaign also called Lopez Obrador “intolerant” and “a danger to Mexico.” Business leaders also paid for spots that used Chavez’s image to scare voters, saying “Mexico doesn’t need a dictator to come out ahead.” Other spots said voting for Lopez Obrador was equivalent to voting for another economic crisis, like those of 1995 and 1982. Lopez Obrador skipped the first presidential debate in early April. Calderon, a Harvard-trained economist, subsequently shot ahead in the polls.
But Lopez Obrador struck back, calling his detractors “white-collar criminals” who who exploited their “privileges” by dodging taxes, and called the current government was “a committee at the service of a minority.” Seeking to reassure the business community, he also said: “We are not going to act irresponsibly. We’re not going to provoke a crisis.” (NYT, July 3)
Voting went ahead in Oaxaca, where striking teachers and their supporters had considered a boycott of the elections. On June 30, the fifth popular assembly (Asamblea Popular del Pueblo de Oaxaca, known as APPO) resolved that the effort to oust Gov. Ulises Ruiz Ortiz of the PRI took first priority. The striking teachers continue to hold Oaxaca City’s central plaza, having retaken after a violent police eviction two weeks ago. (Narco News, July 1)
However, in the Mexico state village of San Salvador Atenco, supporters of the Peoples Front in Defense of the Land marched on election day to denounce all the political parties and candidates, and to demand the release of the “political prisoners” taken in a clash with police in the village in early May. (Notimex, July 2)
Subcommander Marcos of the Zapatista rebels (known as “Delegate Zero” on his tour of the country known as the “Other Campaign”) also spoke at several rallies and events around the Mexico City area in the days leading up to the elections, witholding support from any candidate and pledging “we are going to continue to organize below and from the left,” regardless of the election’s outcome. (La Jornada, July 3)
“There is another space, another path, another way of doing politics,” he told a crowd in Mexico City’s main plaza, the Zocalo, on election day. (EFE, July 2)
All sources online at Chiapas95.