Sunday, August 06, 2006


Mas Viva Mexico!

Click here for a visual of the areas to be recounted (via Sendero del Peje There are various takes on the decision of the electoral court to count 9% of the ballots. The PRDists are fulminating. Pancho Villa at El Machete calls it a ratification of the fraud. Sendero del Peje points at pictures of the PANistas (e.g. ,here) with long faces, but thinks PAN got what they wanted. But based on reports of what Lopez Obrador said, I think the game is more complicated than other commentators. Both sides are playing a dangerous, high-stakes game. The winner gets to either keep PEMEX for the public good or auction it off to the American oil industry. The winner gets to decide whether Mexico greatly expands "globalization" or whether it asserts national sovereignty and sets limits on it. The winner gets to decide whether there's a safety net for the poor, or whether the safety net is cut into puppet strings. Personally, I agree with The Economist's pre-election assessment that Mexico is showing signs of dangerous shock from the globalization treatment. People who want to see the country prosper need to back off and let it absorb the massive economic and cultural change that has been forced on a formerly rural, agricultural country. If Lopez Obrador pushes too far, he can be painted as a dangerous demagogue. Fortunately, PAN has inoculated him against this by crying wolf a few times too often. On the other hand, he has no choice but to push right to the limit of insurrection, because if he doesn't, the system will crown Calderon even if he lost. We Americans witnessed that with George W. Bush, and I'll bet there are 40 million of us who wish we had been in front of the Supreme Court building in early December, 2000. Lopez Obrador also has to keep his base fired up and in tight discipline for what promises to be a long campaign. This is difficult. People have jobs and family obligations. Living outdoors, even in Mexico City is no picnic. There are the inevitable impulses toward violence, whether from the extreme Mexican left of "Comandante Cero" or, more plausibly, from agent provocateurs. On Calderon's side, it really depends on what happened. Here are three scenarios: 1) there was no fraud, 2) there was fraud, either locally planned or deniably planned, or 3) there was centrally-planned fraud. The first scenario is unlikely. One would expect a candidate confident of his victory to accede to a recount-- to demand it, since it would cement his legitimacy. If Calderon did not commit fraud, he's a complete idiot who doesn't deserve to be president. By pouring so much energy into avoiding the inevitable, he has forfeited any sense of legitimacy. But Calderon is one of those giys who remind one of Groucho Marx's line about Chico "Chicoletti" Marx: "Just because he seems to be a complete idiot, don't let that fool you. He is a complete idiot." Just listening to Calderon, he seems to be a few chromosomes shy of 46, so he might not have stolen the election. It's also certainly possible that a "leaderless resistance" sort of fraud could have occurred. Thousands of precinct-level officials, terrified of Lopez Obrador by propaganda poured out through the election season, might have shaved votes here or there. If so, a recount might show Calderon to have legitimately won, even if many local officials go to jail. This possibility is likely given the sheer number of precincts under challenge. But mass local fraud does not exclude door number three, namely... A separate, centrally planned fraud. If there was a centrally-planned fraud, this is very, very serious stuff. There's evidence it was. Did Hildebrando cook the software? Were lists of social services beneficiaries used to presssure people to vote a certain way or to not vote at all? Did Esther Elba Gordillo engage in a conspiracy to steal votes? Is the IFE corrupt? Are the recent e-mails evidence that the PAN is trying to corrupt the court into doing a selective recount? All Calderon had to do was avoid a recount and he'd become president. He's failed. That's reason for optimism. AMLO has moved the ball off his own goal and to the 9 yard line. That's reason for optimism. If one wants to be pessimistic, look at what AMLO has to accomplish. He has to keep his troops charged up to the max over the course of a month or more, but keep them from taking the law into their own hands. He faces the economic pressure the US can bring to bear, not to mention the assassins it uses when it can't do things cleanly. Above all, he has to engage the Mexican people in seeing a vision of the Mexico that could be. It's daunting.
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