Monday, July 03, 2006

Mexico presidential election: Calderon probable winner


Here are the results from the vote counting as of 7:30 am this morning. You can visit the live-blogging post to watch how this developed through the night. Please remember that these totals, while official, are not yet certified. "Official" means that the figures are released by the IFE, Mexico's federal election bureau. As the IFE continually releases these vote count results, it issues this warning:
La alteración de estos resultados es delito federal
That means that once the media and all other interested parties receive these numbers from the IFE, those parties may not alter the figures and then publicize them. That's a no-no.

Results as of 7:30 am:

% reporting: 93.46
turnout: 59%

PAN (Calderon): 13,590,549 -- 36.59%
PRD (AMLO: 13,180,294 -- 35.48%
PRI (Madrazo): 7,881,780 -- 21.22%
annulled votes: 780,302

PAN: 34.12%
PRD: 29.84%
PRI: 27.12%

Diputados (House)
PAN: 33.89
PRD: 29.08
PRI: 27.36

The annulled vote total is extemely high. 780,000 votes have been annulled for one reason or another and the difference between the Calderon and AMLO vote totals is only a bit more than 400,000. There probably will be some chit-chat between the two sides over this issue.

What is most striking so far is that the PRI, the political force that ruled Mexico for 70 odd years, failed to win a single state in the presidential election. Not one. The PRI is far from toothless, however. The party still won 27% of the Chamber of Deputies (the Mexican House turns over 100% each election and House members may not stand for reelection).

It will be several days before the results are certified by the IFE and it remains to be seen how the PRD aficionados react if their man Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador is not declared the winner. They'll probably blame Bush. There will be some problems in the streets. How many problems and how serious it will get remains to be seen.

I'll update this post with events as they occur throughout the day.

UPDATE 8:30 am: Well, it's starting. Based upon what I have seen and heard this morning, this is going to get nasty and AMLO is the demagogue that his political opponents have been portraying him to be.

He just concluded an interview with Televisa where he claims he has won and will not accept any other result. He said, unbelievably, "Go to the IFE and see the results. They have declared me the winner." That's not even close to the truth. The IFE's results show that Calderon leads AMLO by about 1.5 percent of the vote and the IFE is not declaring anyone the winner and will not until at least Wednesday. Calderon has been forced to respond. Calderon also suggests visiting the IFE where the federal elections board has him with a 1.5 percent lead over AMLO. That is true.
AMLO is stoking the fires of a popular revolt, ala Chavez.

That popular revolt has already manifested itself in Oaxaca. The president of the state's IFE has been kidnapped by some striking teachers' union members. They are accusing him of changing vote totals to benefit the PRI. In addition, some of the votes here in the capitol city of Oaxaca de Juarez were taken to the headquarters of the Policia Preventiva so they could be counted in a secure environment. The teachers attacked the PP headquarters and took votes, election officials and police as hostages. I don't know where those people are now.

You can rest assured that, if someone doesn't convince AMLO to shut his mouth, this is going to get nastier yet. One has to understand the reaction of the PRD rank-and-file, in spite of the irresponsibility of their standard bearer. They had the 1988 presidential election stolen from them, they are hunted down and murdered in the valley's and high sierrras of the Mexican countryside, they have seen their lot in life go from bad to worse to hopeless, they have had their hard earned pesos stolen from them by a parade of corrupt politicians acting in concert with wealthy land and business owners and on and on. And all of this has been taking place since the early 1500's when the Spanish conquistadors arrived. That's 500 years of suppression and abuse.

On the other hand, however, there are millions of others who have placed their fate in the hands of the PAN or the PRI and don't deserve to have their lives made more miserable than they already are by firebrand revolutionaries. When was the last revolution you can think of where the winners made real changes to the political environment and bettered people's lives -- changes that still exist today? Ask yourself that same question tomorrow. You'll have to count back 230 years.

There is also the possibility that AMLO is seeking a major payoff to go quietly into the night. I would not discount this idea too much. However, I don't see the PAN or the PRI scraping up enough money to buy him off.

UPDATE II: The Oaxaca IFE officials have been released. They were held for over 7 hours and subjected to beatings and threats. What happened is this: In the various voting districts around the country, some small number of polling places are assigned as "special polls". That means that, if you are from out-of-town, you must go to one of these special polls to vote. There are a limited number of special ballots just for the out-of-towners, usually between 500 and 750 per polling station. When those special ballots run out, you can't vote.

The Oaxaca IFE knew that the majority of the striking teachers now camping downtown were not from this area. So the IFE made sure to have the maximum 750 special ballots at all of the special polls. In addition, the local IFE assigned an additional three polling places as "emergency" special polls. It still wasn't enough. There are many thousands of striking teachers from outlying areas in the city's center and they all demanded the right to vote. When the special ballots ran out, they got pissed -- or more pissed, I should say.

The IFE director and his staff members made the serious mistake of trying to do their jobs. They wandered downtown to check on the special polls and the emergency special polls. They were picked off one by one and taken to a local hotel which has been commandeered by the striking teachers. Once there, they were abused for more than 7 hours before being released.

The teachers were demanding the same thing that so many in the USA demand, from the followers of Jackson/Sharpton/McKinney to La Raza/Aztlan to federal and state prisoners and convicted felons: the right to vote without any rules or regulations. I still do not know what happened to the Policia Preventiva hostages or the ballots that were taken from their headquarters last night. This particular story is not being publicized. Stay tuned.

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