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Harper congratulates Calderón while election results disputed

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Issue: 38 Section: Canadian News Geography: Canada, Latin America Mexico Topics: elections, diplomacy, Harper

July 10, 2006

Harper congratulates Calderón while election results disputed

Ballots from precincts showing strong support for López Obrador were found in a garbage dump on Tuesday. photo: El Universal
Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper called Mexican presidential candidate Felipe Calderón to congratulate him on his victory on Friday. Harper joins George Bush and Spanish Prime Minister Luis Rodriguez Zapatero in recognizing the reported election results, which have been the focus of a major controversy in Mexico.

According to Mexican law, however, Calderón cannot be declared the winner until allegations of election fraud are investigated.

On Saturday, hundreds of thousands of people demonstrated in Mexico City over increasing evidence of election fraud. Andrés Manuel López Obrador, a centre-left candidate who was polling a few points ahead of Calderón as Mexico went to the polls, has called for a full recount of votes in 43,000 precincts where his campaign says there has been evidence of fraud.

According to The New York Times, López Obrador has objected to the recognition of Calderón by governments in the US, Spain and Canada.

The Times reported that Obrador said that recognition from Harper and others "is all part of a strategy by Mr. Calderón to end a process that was not yet over."

On Tuesday, reports surfaced that an unknown number of ballots were found in a garbage dump. The Federal Electoral Institute (IFE), the body responsible for counting votes, has changed its story. According to reports in The Narco News Bulletin, the IFE stated that 98.5 per cent of the votes had been counted, when in fact 3.3 million votes had been missing from that tally. When the 3.3 million votes resurfaced, Calderón's lead had diminished from 377,000 votes to 257,000.

Critics have also alleged a pattern of vote shaving across Mexico's 130,000 precincts, and question the status of an estimated 900,000 "nullified" votes, which are counted as spoiled ballots.

Meanwhile, Mexican TV stations have refused to release the results of exit polls taken during the election to the public. Exit polls are frequently used by neutral election observers as a way to judge the accuracy of vote counts.

According to observers across the political spectrum, Mexico's political stability and civil order is hanging in the balance. If the public is not satisfied that the results reflect the vote, many fear widespread rioting, and a shutdown of key infrastructure. Major demonstrations are expected in the coming weeks.

Meanwhile, The Narco News reports that, "outraged citizens armed with video cameras have besieged the 300 recount locales demanding an actual ballot-by-ballot recount."

In 1988, the founder of López Obrador's leftist party, Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas, lost to Carlos Salinas by one per cent of the vote--according to the official results. Thousands of Mexicans saw the result for what history would show it to be: a massive fraud, accomplished by discarding thousands of ballots. The result was enforced violently; armed forces met popular demonstrations in the streets, and 500 supporters of Cárdenas' (now Obrador's) party were killed between 1988 and 1991.

So far, the current government, the IFE and Calderón's supporters have opposed a recount.

Dru Oja Jay

» New York Times: Leftist Candidate of Mexican Elections Claims Fraud

» Narco News: In Mexico, 2.5 Million Missing Votes Reappear: López Obrador Reduces Calderón's Official Margin to 0.6 percent

» Narco News: A Full Recount Would Show that López Obrador Won Mexico's Presidency by More than One Million Votes

» Narco News: The Ominous Shadow of 1988 Hovers Over this July's Mexican Presidential Election

» CBC: Huge crowd protests Mexican election results

» Associated Press: Mexico's Calderon asks for unity while call to protest expands nationwide

» Bloomberg: Calderon Seeks Alliances in Mexico as Opponents Challenge Vote

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