Saturday, August 05, 2006



The electoral court has decided to count 9.07% of the ballots, beginning August 9th. This is good legal logic. A limited recount should expose any serious irregularities-- as long as the selected precincts are chosen reasonably-- and should provide the basis for further recounts if the initially reported results look fraudulent on re-examination. However, I can read the newspapers. The Mexican stock market, the Bolsa, has behaved as if Calderon's victory is in the bag. Either the wealthy are completely delusional-- quite possible given what we have seen-- or the result is wired. Here's the rub: things have gone too far not to have a serious penalty of some kind imposed on PAN. Two Mexican states are doubtfully under control by the federal government. People are heartily sick of the narcotrafficking and the violence and corruption it brings. So, if Calderon becomes president, legitimately or not, and PAN does not get some sort of whacking around the ears, I predict Mexico will enter serious civil disorder not long after. The genie is out of the bottle. _________ Update: Many observers, including some PRDists, see this decision as a defeat. But remember that a few weeks ago, PANistas were telling us that any recount would be illegal, that the election was over and we should start calling Calderon Mr. President. So, I see a 9% recount as moving the ball to the 9 yard line. It's not a win, but it's movement in the right direction. None of us know what opening those ballot boxes will show. My own feeling is that the pre-election dirty tricks were more serious than even ballot fraud. But Calderon has already lost legitimacy. No one will ever believe he won the election cleanly. Change is coming to Mexico. Whether it comes peacefully or not depends greatly on how AMLO and the PRD handle the next week.
Sorry for the intrusion butI feel I have the obligation to clarify something.

The districts for the recount will not be chosen nor will they constitute a sample to determine whether or not the rest of the votes should be counted.

These districts are the ones that do present irregularities among those presented by PRD in their complaint to the TRIFE and met with the legal requirements for a recount.

PRD presented complaints for 230 districts (Mexico is divided in 300). Of these, 56 complaints were considered unsubstancial, 25 were investigated and no irregularities were found, 6 presented serious inconsitencies and 143 presented minor flaws.

The 11, 839 polling stations where the recount will take place belong to the 149 disricts where inconsistencies were found. They may overturn the result of the election, however unlikely that may be but there is no amount of inconsistencies that could prompt the TRIFE to order a full recount.

They judges stated very clearly that they consider remaining 151 districts to be clean and that there is no reason to tamper with them.

What are the likely scenarios?

If a vast majority of the polling stations present dreadful inconsistencies, they will be declared null and will be taken out of the official result. However, since they comprise less than 10% of the actual votes, there is no way the final election will be rendered void.

Obrador can still win. Those 11,839 polling stations have enough votes to overturn the result.

Of course, it is very likely that the result will stand and Calderon will win.

Nothing is certain now. We can only hope that Obrador will act with responsibility.

My intention in writing this is, as I stated earlier, just to clarify something I consider to be a misconception. Not to quarrel.

We accept the partial recount and would have happily accepted the full recount had the TRIFE ordered it. It is TRIFE who must order the recount, not Obrador nor Calderon.

That is why we opposed the idea of "voto por voto". Not because we opposed the recount but because we felt Obrador was using his political muscle to bully TRIFE into doing his bidding.

It did not happen. The ruling of the TRIFE may be considered to be flawed but if someone is to make such accusation, he'd better present undeniable proof.

Believe it or not, I took part in the 1988 demos. I believe in democracy. I honestly believe there is no evidence of widespread fraud.

If the recount gives Obrador the victory, I will do my best to work for the good of Mexico even with him on the Seat.

Another thing that must be cleared:

PAN and its followers never really said any recount would be illegal.

We said that a full recount goes against the Mexican Election Law (which was confirmed by the TRIFE ruling) but we were always willing to do parcial recounts (which I even said myself during our regretably unpolite argument on youtube).

There were thousands of polling stations where the votes were recounted on the 5th of July and we fully understood there was a huge chance that TRIFE would order more recounts.

I beseech you, conduct a search on PAN's official statements over the past few weeks and you will see they always agreed to the recount, yes, but only if the Court ordered it...

What they opposed (what we opposed) was doing a full recount just because PRD threatened to block the streets or worse if not.

Had Calderón said "I agree with Obrador. Let's ask the Court to order a full recount" it might have been considered an act of weakness.

Recounts of less than 10% has been standard practice in Mexican elections since the IFE began its operation.

The legitimacy of Calderon (should he win) cannot be legally challenged by such a small percentage of polling stations presenting inconsistencies due to human error or even with deliberate tampering.

Mexican law states that an election can only be considered flawed if more than 20% of the stations present inconsistencies.

That is not the case. At least not from the perspective of the Court.

Now, you may question Calderon's legitimacy based on moral grounds. That is your prerrogative.

But Lopez Obrador has (regretably for his cause) squandered much of the sympathy he had because of his decision to block Reforma (which does not really hurt the rich but could cause hundreds of working-class Mexicans to lose their jobs).

Today he challenged the Court's ruling and he displayed a banner with showing pictures of the judges under the caption "Traitors to democracy".

Most Mexicans are not thrilled by this. There were just a few thousand today at the Zocalo to hear his speech.

There may probably be a couple of hundred thousand willing to take arms with him should he choose to do so... That is still a lot of people
but not the millions he expects.
It is likely there will be turmoil but I do not see a revolution happening.

I do not want to sound cynical but, given that Mexico is enjoying a level of stability unheard of by those who suffered the crisis of 1982, 1988 and 1994... believing that this will lead to civil war is overestimating the democratic devotion of Mexicans.

Even among the poor, the fear of loosing what little they have may prove enough to sway them away from seeking to overthrow the Government.

I do not like Obrador, yes. But he could have made a good counter-balance force to Calderon's team and could force PAN to have a more generous and socially-minded approach to their policies.

That sounds unlikely now that he is losing credibility even among many of his own followers. Those closest to him are becoming more radical by the hour which, predictably, is scaring away the more moderate among his supporters.

At a given time, there have been no more than 1000 people in the Camps in Reforma.

I visited them yesterday. I felt sad because they suffered a lot by Wednesday's storm. Most of the tents are empty and the feeling in the air is not combative nor festive anymore.

Incidentally, I smiled at them as I walked by. They chose a different candidate but, still, they are my people.

I am not enjoying this. I did vote for PAN but I believe in balance... I do not think it would bode well for Mexico to see Lopez commit political suicide by becoming an outlaw.

PRD is the second political force in Mexico for the first time in its 10+ year existence.

In this election they got more than 14mil votes, something they had never achieved in the past.

The left has now enough seats in Congress to become a loud voice... to be a major player.Many among PRD believe it would be counter-productive to throw this away by following Obrador's radicalization.

In any event, it is undeniable that the left has become a force to be reckoned with in Mexico. This means that those of us who support free market (which does not necessarily mean we are on the right) can not afford to ignore them.

Doing something to bridge the gap between the rich and poor in Mexico is now the top item in the agenda. Even Calderon knows it.

And it is very likely that this would not have happened had it not been for Lopez.

Regardless of what happens in the next few weeks, Obrador's greatest achievement may have been just that: making it inevitable to focus on the need to do something about extreme poverty in Mexico.

So you are right: Change WILL come to Mexico, no matter who wins.

I am daring to be optimistical about this.
No reasonable post is an intrusion, Manexpat. Even people who have behaved intemperately in the past are welcome if they want to discuss things politely in the present. We learn by listening to people whose opinions we don't agree with.

As I hope you will now agree, accusing people of imperialistic meddling and committing crimes for debating an issue is never a good conversation starter. And I hope we can agree that fears of violence in Mexico City have-- at least so far-- been wildly overstated... even as Oaxaca heads toward anarchy for reasons unrelated to the election.

What no one (even the PRD) seems to have recognized is that the TRIFE has just mandated "voto por voto." They haven't agreed to "casilla por casilla," at least not yet. But finding 11,000 precincts with any irregularities-- you call them minor, but I have gone through the detailed statistics of several hundred of them and don't think they're minor at all-- is hardly a demonstration of a great electoral system.

Look at the recount of Broward, Palm Beach and Miami counties in Florida in 2000. These are huge counties, with something like 2,000,000 votes between them. Recounts showed a shift of a few hundred votes, probably due to the well-known issue that incompletely detached chads fall off as they are run through a counting machine again and again. Whatever other problems there were in those counties, the consistency of the recount was within about 0.05%.

If we accept that relatively poor consistency as the gold standard, that means that if a precinct of 100 people has a miscount of as much as 1 vote, it's suspicious at the 95% level of certainty. If a precinct of 500 is off by more than 4 votes, it's suspicious. And if 9% of Mexico's precincts are off by even as much as one vote, it's a flaming scarlet letter over the election. If the election court agrees that 9% of the precincts are suspicious, then they are merely putting off the inevitable by not ordering a full recount now. Judicially they made the right decision. Politically, it will simply add to tension.

Even should the vote count not change, the suspicions will unfortunately not be lifted. People will wonder whether those precincts were fixed and, unfortunately, there's fuel for that suspicion: the IFE did go in and attempt to fix some vote counts.

The right way to dispel suspicions is to be transparent. Had Calderon agreed to a properly-supervised recount of all disputed precincts in early July, the controversy would have dissipated. But the PAN leadership acted as though they were guilty. And so now, even if they didn't steal the election, they'll have to govern a country convinced they did.

For this, they cannot blame Lopez Obrador, but only themselves.
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