Mexican conservative wins presidential election

Thursday, July 6, 2006

Felipe Calderón

Presidential candidate Felipe Calderón was declared the winner of a close race on Thursday in the Mexican general election. The leading rival candidate, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, did not concede and said that he would mobilize public rallies and seek to contest the results in court.

Both leading Mexican presidential candidates earlier proclaimed victory in the Mexican presidential race despite notice from Mexico's Federal Electoral Institute (IFE) that the numbers were too close to determine the winner. Poll workers began a recount of vote tallies Wednesday.

By Thursday morning, with 98% of the vote tallies recounted, Calderón held a lead of less than one percent over López Obrador. In accordance with Mexican electoral law, workers counted the tallies attached to ballot boxes at polling stations, but did not open properly sealed and tallied ballot boxes.

Citing irregularities and a decision to nullify 904,000 ballots that poll officials deemed unclearly marked, López Obrador has called for a full vote-by-vote recount.

Questions were raised about the vote count after discrepancies were noticed in the counting. While some of López Obrador's supporters have alleged manipulation of the counting process, López Obrador himself has discounted the possibility of outright fraud and international election observers have said that the election was transparent and largely free of problems.

The interior minister, Carlos Abascal, has said that a total recount is "physically impossible and also legally impossible." However, reports from every voting booth filled by representatives of all parties have already been distributed to the contenders.

Now that the final count is complete, Mexico's Federal Electoral Tribunal of seven judges can hear complaints and consider overturning the election. It must declare a winner by September 6, 2006.