Monday, July 17, 2006

Mexico's recount crisis

(Source Article:Protests in Mexico against poll result -

Weeks ago, the official count had Felipe Calderon, from Mexico’s conservative party, slightly ahead and therefore winner of Mexico’s recent presidential election. However, spurred by Obrador, his leftist supporters and many of the country’s poor are demanding a recount of the votes, feeling that they were somehow cheated in the election. Mexico City this week witnessed one of the largest demonstrations in its history as people from around the country hit the streets to protest in favor of a recount.

Andres Obrador, the leftist candidate who barely lost the election on July 2nd according to the official count, claims that fraud was involved, and that “civil-resistance actions will begin this week.” Hundreds of thousands of his supporters rallied to a demonstration held by Obrador on Sunday. Meanwhile, Mexico's electoral court is looking into Obrador’s complaints that huge irregularities exist in the original count; the court must announce a winner by September 6th. (see Mexico crisis deepens with civil resistance plan - Reuters)

The wealthiest families in Mexico may have a lot to lose if Obrador assumes power; in the early 1990s, many groups profited by receiving valuable government holdings, such as steel mills and copper mines, at a fraction of the cost when the conservative government privatized Mexican industry. However, Mexican workers gained little from the privatization, and so they are among Obrador’s supporters during this nationwide recount movement. (see Mexican workers want a recount)

The official count had Calderon winning by just 243,000 votes out of over 40 million. Obrador insists on keeping the pressure on Mexican authorities, and that a major demonstration is being planned for July 30th. The markets, however, are not flinching at a threat of Obrador assuming power: the peso strengthened and bond rallied, reflecting the confidence of investors who feel even a recount will confirm Calderon’s win.

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