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When is time to stop fighting?

19 Jul

Party mates are gradually abandoning Lopez Obrador in his fight against Mexico’s election results.

This “EPNdejo” is not my president (photo by Christhian Ferenc)

An editorial in the Spanish newspaper El Pais on 15 July called the second-place finisher in Mexico’s presidential election a ”burden” and advised the country’s left to rethink his leadership. Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador hit back, accusing Spain of “colonial journalism”. However, a number of the prominent members of his party seem to agree with the Spanish commentator.

AMLO, as Mr Lopez Orador is known in Mexico, filed a legal challenge to the results of the 1 July presidential election. It is now up to the three judges who sit on the Federal Electoral Court (Trife), the maximum authority, to address the complaints regarding the election. The court has until early September to rule on the validity of the vote.

Many senior officials from Amlo’s Democratic Revolution Party (PRD) believe their results were good. There were also elections for Congress, several state governors and local governments alongside the presidential poll. The PRD has won 101 out of 500 seats in the lower house of the Parliament, and 22 seats in the 128-member upper house. The party has also won two out of six contested governor posts and the one of the mayor of Mexico City.

If the successful candidates challenged the legality of the presidential vote, they would also be hanging question marks over their victory. Not suprisingly therefore, they are very careful when positioning themselves on the issue.

The newly elected governor of Morales, Graco Ramirez, has quickly distanced himself from AMLO, saying he prefers to govern his state.

The current mayor of  Mexico City, Marcelo Ebrard, has ruled out vote-buying in the capital .

His successor, Miguel Angel Mancera,  tweeted on 2 July: “Every candidate has the right to contest the election. Exceeding campaign expenses, as @EPN (Enrique Pena Nieto) did, is an electoral offence.” However, he recognized Mr Pena Nieto’s victory.

The PRD’s bigwigs urge Mr Lopez Obrador to avoid repeating 2006 and instead to take advantage of the influence the party has won in the Parliament and state governments to bring about the changes they propose.

There is something in it. But so there is in Mr Lopez Obrador’s claim that he cannot accept fraudulent results.

AMLO alleges that Mr Pena Nieto bought as many as 5 million votes – over 6% of Mexico’s 79 million voters. If this was true, the results of the election, which now say AMLO lost by some 7% of the vote, could have been very different.

Online battles

Although the support for AMLO is waning among his party colleagues and some commentators say he has alienated many of his middle class followers by the havoc of 2006, there are still many willing to fight battles for him on the streets as well as online.

Thousands took part in the second “mega march” in Mexico on 14 July. Videos of protests staged in other countries have been posted on Youtube.

Social media demonstrate well the support Mr Lopez Obrador is drawing, but also what a divisive personality he is.

Twitter trending topics mentions (data source: Topsy.com)

AMLO’s supporters have been generating Twitter’s trending topics since the election. Many of these soared to a couple of hundred thousand mentions in a day, although they have quickly died out.

Two words, mosty used by AMLO’s fans, have kept consistently high volume of mentions: “fraude” (fraud) and #yosoy132 (I am 132, a student movement opposing the election of Mr Pena Nieto).

“Soriana”, the supermarket chain whose vouchers were allegedly used to buy votes for Mr Pena Nieto, has been also frequently mentioned. It has developed variations such as #sorianagate or #yocomproensoriana (I shop in Soriana).

There have been short-lived strong hash tags such as #epnnuncaseramipresidente (EPN will never be my president), with over 370,000 mentions on 3 and 4 July or #megamarcha (mega march), with almost 370,000 mentions on 7 July, the day when the first “mega march” against the election results took place.

#ExigimosDemocracia (we demand democracy), soared to 126,794 mentions  on 7 July, followed by #quefaltaderespeto (what a lack of respect), with 90’545 on 9 July and then by #amlonoterindes (AMLO don’t give in), with 69,157 mentions on 12 July.

Many influential twitterers criticized the PRD leaders for not backing Mr Lopez Obrador.

The tweet by @Facso on 11 July was retweeted 110 times: “This #LaIzquierdaVsAMLO (the left against AMLO) is right. Neither Ebrard, nor Mancera, nor Cardenas has positioned themselves strongly alongside AMLO. Strange”

Some said the elected PRD candidates owe their victories to AMLO.

A message by @cesargasca on 9 July was retweeted 9 times: “We demand that governors Mancera, Mr Graco and Mr Nunez maintain their support for AMLO. Thanks to him they won.”

Although this claim is questionable. In the traditional PRD’s power base in Mexico City half a million more people voted for Mr Mancera in local elections than for Mr Lopez Obrador in the presidential poll on the same day.

On the other side of the AMLO emotional spectrum, @reina_ximena tweeted: “#LaizquierdavsAMLO These political groups have to distance themselves from AMLO, otherwise they will fall into violence.”

@garca_ale triggered 16 retweets on 11 July: “#AMLO radicalizes the left movement, believing that if they don’t think like him, they are against Mexico.

Many in the PRD now seem to be coming to a conclusion that AMLO has no chance of winning them the country’s presidency. They have started considering their 2018 candidate for the top office. And although AMLO is still in the game, the names of Miguel Angel Mancera and the current Mexico City mayor Marcelo Ebrard have already been put forward.

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Deja-vu?

5 Jul

For the moment, Mexico’s losing presidential candidate follows in his 2006 steps. Will he change the course?

 

Three days after the presidential election in Mexico on 1 July, few wonder who has won. The breaths are held to see if Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador will accept more easily thand the last time that it is not him.

In 2006, he lost the race for the country’s top office by less that 1% to the current President Filipe Calderon. This year the margin is much larger. According to preliminary results, Enrique Pena Nieto has won 38.15% and Mr Lopez Obrador 31.64% of the vote.

Six year ago, the followers of the leftist candidate occupied streets during months following the elections. Mr Lopez Obrador repeatedly apologised for the havoc, which, some analysts say, has cost him at this year’s polls. However, for the moment the post-election events strikingly resemble the 2006 sequence. Here is a comparison:

  • Mexicans casted their votes on 2 July in 2006.
  • In 2012, the election day was on 1 July.
  • A day after the 2006 election, Mr Lopez Obrador showed a press conference copies of results from some polling stations, which he said didn’t match the preliminary results published by Mexico’s election body on the internet. Three million votes were missing from the preliminary results total, he said.
  • In 2012, a day after the election, Mr Lopez Obrador was the only presidential candidate refusing to concede defeat, saying he would wait until all the votes were counted. He told a press conference that he cannot accept “fraudulent results” and announced that “if it will be necessary to request a vote recount, he will do it”.
  • Two days after the 2006 election, on 4 July, preliminary indicated that Mr Lopez Obrador won 35.34 per cent of the vote, 1 per cent behindFelipeCalderon.He rejected the results and called for a recount.
  • In 2012, on 3 July, he tweeted that in accordance with law, the vote-count in 300 districts should be revised.

Although some media suggested that Mr Lopez Obrador promised during his campaign to accept this year’s results, he has always attached conditions to this.

When a group of intellectuals asked him on 7 June if he was willing to sign a document confirming that he will accept the verdict of the electoral authority, he replied:  “If there is a fraud, how can I accept it? It would be a betrayal of democracy, it would be to betray ourselves”.

Already before the elections took place he was speaking about numerous irregularities.

So, what can we expect if the events in Mexico continue to follow the 2006 course?

Here is how it happened back then:

  • Four days after the elections, on 6 July, Mr Lopez Obrador announced at a news conference that he would challenge the election results with the Federal Electoral Tribunal and demand that the votes are re-counted “one-by-one”.
  • On 7 July, he called on his supporters to rally the following day at the Mexico City’s main square, Zocalo, to protest against the election result.
  • On 8 July, the defeated candidate announced that the following day he would challenge the election in Mexico’s highest electoral court, because it has violated the principles of legality, independence, impartiality, and objectivity, consecrated in Article 41 of the Constitution.
  • On 9 July, Mr Lopez Obrador held a protest rally in Zocolo and called for further demonstrations on 12 and 16 July to protest against the election result. He asked a special seven judge electoral tribunal to order a full recount because of what he said were irregularities and fraud in the vote counting process.
  • On 16 July, he repeated demands for vote-by-vote recount during protest in Zocolo.
  • On 30 July, the Mexican leftist called on his supporters to occupy the centre of the capital in permanent camps until there is a recount of all the votes.
  • On 28 August, Mr Lopez Obrador refused to accept defeat after a top court rejected his fraud claims and vowed to fight on to overturn the result.
  • On 5 September, he rejected the ruling that declared Felipe Calderon a president-elect and refused to recognise him as such. He called for a National Democratic Convention in Zocolo on 16 September.
  • On 16 September, a resolution of the National Democratic Convention named Mr Lopez Obrador the “legitimate president.” Following the voting on the Convention’s proposals, the delegates agreed that they would not recognize Felipe Calderon as the president-elect or his government.
  • On 20 November, Mr Lopez Obrador was sworn in as Mexico’s “legitimate president” at a special ceremony in Zocolo. A massive protest was slated for 1 December to oppose the inauguration of Mr Calderon.

 

 

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