MEXICO CITY — Conservative presidential candidate Felipe Calderon held a slim but apparently insurmountable lead Monday over leftist Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who alleged widespread fraud and said he would not concede defeat.
With 98% of polling stations reporting, Calderon led Lopez Obrador by 402,000 votes, or about 1 percentage point. Lopez Obrador would need to win three-quarters of the remaining 800,000 uncounted ballots to surpass his rival.
One of the defining characteristics of thriving democracies is that the election, the expression of the people regarding their preferred leadership, is sacrosanct. It allows for peaceful government transitions to occur, without rancor, and with the losing side gracefully conceding and vowing to return stronger the next time no matter how close the election.
All of that went out the window when Mr. Gore litigated the hell out of Florida in 2000, and Mr. Kerry followed suit with angry protestations in Ohio in 2004. Both squealed that they had been cheated, that there were uncounted votes, that there was fraud, that machines failed, or worse, were tampered with. They accused public election officials of racism. They went to the courts to contest events beyond all reason. And they did so without solid evidence.
Mr. Lopez Obrador has learned the lessons well.
Obviously. And the evidence thus far? (crickets chirping) Mr. Lopez Obrador apparently claimed yesterday to have such evidence. Since the election was only Sunday, I can safely assume that if it didn't go his way he had prepared challenges at the ready - much like Mr. Kerry's team in Ohio. Diebold!!
But Lopez Obrador told reporters Monday at his party headquarters that early tallies by federal electoral authorities were missing 3 million votes. The allegation could not be verified."
There are many irregularities," Lopez Obrador alleged. "Obviously, there was a manipulation" of the results, he said.
Still, there are some things we in the US can learn from the Mexican election system.
In a bid to overcome a long history of voter fraud, Mexico has adopted a series of strict federal laws and created independent electoral institutions and a respected system of electoral courts that have won international praise. Anti-fraud measures include a single voter registry and a uniform photo ID card for voters.
Oh, if only!
A legal challenge to a Calderon victory is not likely to succeed, analysts said, but could damage Calderon's legitimacy. The legal contest also may be a first move aimed at winning concessions from Calderon.
Yes, the left in Mexico seems to have learned well from their ideological brethren to the north.
cross-posted at Joust The Facts