Today’s WSJ: Democracy Lives: Mexico pulls off a near “10” in electoral order. Mary Anastasia O’Grady explains
The big victory in this race goes to the IFE in carrying out a spectacularly clean, transparent and well-organized election. If institutions matter to development, as Nobel laureate Douglass North contends, then Mexico is well on the way to progress. Mr. Calderón echoed the sentiments of millions of Mexicans when he told me yesterday that watching the electoral process made him “proud to be a Mexican.” Mexico’s next test will be how it stands up to Mr. López Obrador’s threat to call street protests if the IFE decision goes against him.
Ms O’Grady was there:
The race was every bit as tight as pollsters had predicted. And by Monday morning when it began to appear that Mr. López Obrador had secured only second place, Mexicans were treated, on national television, to a flash of anger that revealed the trademark intolerance that has made him such a polarizing figure: The red- faced candidate gripped the podium in frustration, pledging to exhaust every available legal channel. His head shook uncontrollably as he demanded that the country “respect” his “triumph.” Yesterday, his senior aides told Reuters that his supporters would take to the streets if the election authorities don’t go his way.
The problem for Mr. López Obrador is that in order to prevail, he has to do more than convince Mexicans that Mr. Calderón is a thieving opponent who managed a massive conspiracy against the will of the people. He also has to portray the IFE and the thousands of citizen volunteers–who on Sunday put on a clinic for the rest of the world on how to run a transparent and orderly election–as enemies of the Mexican people. That won’t be easy, and public opinion is fast turning against him.
The Sunday vote was an amazing electoral symphony, featuring thousands of small polling stations all over this sprawling metropolis, in private homes, schools and community centers. I passed by or visited a mere fraction of them. Yet my impressions were confirmed by wider press reports and independent observers. Everywhere I went, from well-to-do districts in the north and south to the popular neighborhoods downtown, the scene was one of saintly patience and First World order. A summer downpour didn’t faze voters one bit. They covered their heads with newspapers, shared umbrellas–and waited.
The rest of the city was calm as well. In the main downtown city square, the Zócalo, which was ground zero for the López Obrador campaign, life was normal. A couple of hammer-and-sickle flags fluttered in the breeze near a tent that read “Zapata Vive”–Zapata Lives–and rickshaw drivers pedaled their passengers through the narrow streets of colonial Mexico.
This city was voting to fill six seats, including that of the president and the mayor. Voters presented identification cards and were handed six large ballots, one for each open office. The names of candidates were also color-coded to assist the illiterate. Voting booths were small, waist-high writing tables enclosed by hanging plastic sheets printed with the reassuring words, “The vote is free and secret.” Voters emerged from the booths, folded the ballots and slid each one into the box corresponding to the contested seat. To complete the process, thumbs were marked with indelible ink and ID cards were returned. Observers from each party monitored the flow.
As a former resident of this city, renowned for its “ungovernability,” I was profoundly impressed by the precision of this exercise; and official observers echoed my anecdotal observations on Sunday night. Mexico pulled off a near “10” in electoral order.
Mark In Mexico finds the Los Angeles Times sowing confusion over Mexican vote. Mark had previously clarified ALL OF THE VOTES WERE COUNTED. Won’t be the first time the LAT is off track.
I’ll post the official results once they are available. Update For now, here’s El Universal’s tally sheet, via Publius Pundit.
Update Tight Mexican Election Seen as Threat to Al Gore’s Political Sainthood. AlGore’s next film: Nacho Libre 2: Tierra Caliente!