Saturday, August 5, 2006
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Mexico is about to get very interesting
Mexico's electoral body has rejected a request by left-wing candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador for a full recount of votes from July's disputed election.Reporting for the AP, Traci Carl reports that Lopez Obrador's supporters are not taking the news well:
In Mexico's central plaza, thousands of protesters watched the court session on a huge screen, chanting "Vote by vote!" and drowning out the judges' statements. Representatives of Lopez Obrador walked out of the session in protest.Lopez Obrador's party controls the Mexico City government, so there is very little chance of the city trying to clear out his supporters. What will be interesting is whether the court decision will increase protests, or whether the current sit-in has turned off former supporters. As this New York Times story by James C. McKinley, Jr. suggests, the street protests are starting to annoy people:
The blockade looks more like a fair than a protest. City workers and party members have erected enormous circus-like tents the length of the avenue. There are stages where musicians entertain the protesters, and a photo exhibit of Mr. López Obrador’s life. A volleyball net had been set up, as well as a mini soccer field.Developing....
posted by Dan on 08.05.06 at 02:24 PM
Kudos for paying attention to our number 1 trading partner, a country with a 100 million plus people, which is heavily impacting on US in a way that mid-East turmoil never could (and I include the impact of oil prices)posted by: Mitchell Young on 08.05.06 at 02:24 PM [permalink]
Mexican law provides for a full recount ONLY when there is evidence of fraud. AMLO had ample opportunity to provide evidence and couldn't find any. Thousands of international observers say it was a very clean election. AMLO's strategy is to cause enough civil unrest to influence the election tribunal. His power over his followers is awesome. If AMLO says there was fraud, they believe it. This is a very irresponsible politician who will stop at nothing to win. It scares me to think of a Mexico with "El Peje" at the helm.posted by: OpenBorderMan on 08.05.06 at 02:24 PM [permalink]
Mitchell: according to our 2005 trade figures, Mexico ranks 2nd in exports from the US and 3rd in exports to the US. Our other, less populous neighbor ranks first in both categories.
The full table, for your amusement.posted by: Chris Lawrence on 08.05.06 at 02:24 PM [permalink]
Mexico should do what most of the democrcies in Latin America: require a percentage threshhold for a candidate to reach, otherwise a runoff takes place.
Claderon could have also coopted AMLO's supporters by also calling for a full recount. At worst, he would have lost, but still have come across as a classy statesman. At best, he could have confirmed his victory and emerged with a stronger mandate.
As it is, he'll probably preside over a country and have a very weak mandate while the nation remains riven with divisions.posted by: Randy Paul on 08.05.06 at 02:24 PM [permalink]
I stand corrected on the trade numbers.posted by: Mitchell Young on 08.05.06 at 02:24 PM [permalink]
It's a non-event and will blow over soon enough.posted by: St. James the Lesser on 08.05.06 at 02:24 PM [permalink]
Let's not forget that this is only the second free election in Mexico's history and the first close one. The constitution was written when one party controlled everything, and they never contemplated the possibility of three competitive parties. Even the simple majority needed to pass any law is nearly impossible with three competitive parties. This of course includes election law.
The only stable outcome is that the three parties merge into two. Personally, I think this is the most likely outcome. Gradually, the remaining PRIstas will join PAN or PRD, and the country will split more or less along class lines. The addition of some middle class Mexicans to the PRD will soften their positions on some issues, and they'll gradually resemble the Democrats more than the Socialists.
I don't think Mexico is headed towards a two-party system too quickly, OpenBorder.
AMLO is cementing his political credentials by showing the establishment that he has followers and plenty of power -- and gunning for a position somewhere within the system.
The winning PAN party will wisely offer him a cushy government post where everyone comes out ahead: AMLO shows his followers he was a tough guy and stood up to the establishment (and will survive for a future battle); PAN and society as a whole show political maturity by incorporating AMLO into the system despite his loss.
I think Mexico is farther along the process of being a "real" democracy (unlike much of the rest of the region) than most of you give it credit for.posted by: St. James the Lesser on 08.05.06 at 02:24 PM [permalink]
Regardless, they still need to establish a minimum threshold to avoid a runoff. caldero really doesn't have a mandate and will have a tough time governing.posted by: Randy Paul on 08.05.06 at 02:24 PM [permalink]
First things first: Mexican politics do not have the same level of maturity as, say, the US's, where Gore conceded defeat for the greater good -- knowing he deserved better answers than he got.
AMLO isn't quite up there with Gore, but consider that the role of president of Mexico (because of its constitution) gives him otherworldly power within the country, and is the path to unspeakable riches (a topic I'm surprised doesn't get more press). So it is understandable that AMLO is pushing hard to get what he considers access to a fair share of the pie.
Having said all that, I believe the Mexican political system is now mature enough to find a solution, and that'll be a great government post for AMLO. Of course, willing to concede I may prove to be a naive optimist on this one. But we agree that he is not the candidate in the best interests of the US or Mexico.
"Mexico should do what most of the democrcies in Latin America: require a percentage threshhold for a candidate to reach, otherwise a runoff takes place."
Most Latin American countries now require a majority (50% + 1), or else there is a top-two runoff. Costa Rica requires 40% for a first-round victory.
Neither provision is as clearly good an idea as it sounds. Much better are those that require a majority OR a given margin (with a runoff in the event the criteria are not reached in the first round).
More here.posted by: Matthew Shugart on 08.05.06 at 02:24 PM [permalink]
Open Border Man said:
"The only stable outcome is that the three parties merge into two. Personally, I think this is the most likely outcome."
I will believe that when I see it. The PRI remains quite competitive in numerous states, and while it is possible that that will diminish after this national showing, I remain in "show me" mode. It could be quite successful--and also useful to either the PRD or the PAN, whichever is in power nationally at any given time in the future--as a pivot party that offers legislative support in exchange for patronage. Don't underestimate the ability of such a party to last for quite some time.posted by: Matthew Shugart on 08.05.06 at 02:24 PM [permalink]
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