13 November 2008
Moderate named winner of left-wing party's elections
By DAVID AGREN
The Federal Electoral Tribunal, or Trife, settled the Democratic Revolution Party´s internal leadership election on Wednesday, nearly eight months since party members cast their ballots for a president.
The decision gave three-time leadership candidate Jesús Ortega the PRD presidency, dealing a stiff blow to former presidential candidate Andrés Manuel López Obrador, who backed a rival candidate and now finds himself at odds over strategy with the new party hierarchy and lacking influence over the candidate nomination process.
Ortega, the leader of a moderate PRD faction known as the New Left, led the original vote count over rival Alejandro Encinas by some 16,000 votes, but the outcome was annulled after the committee charged with overseeing the election found irregularities in more than 20 percent of the polling station tallies. The election and leadership campaign were rife with allegations of improper campaigning, vote tampering and ballot boxes being stolen.
The Trife said in its ruling that enough of the polling stations had been installed to adequately stage the election. It also adjusted the final vote count, giving Ortega an even bigger advantage.
Encinas, who had been endorsed by López Obrador, rebuked the ruling on Wednesday, calling it "a clear intrusion by the state into the internal life of our party."
He said that the Trife ignored irregularities - votes from polling stations that were never opened were included in the final vote count, for instance - and called on Ortega to "not accept" the decision and to instead reach an agreement for governing the party.
Ortega wasted little time Wednesday in announcing that he would seek unity in his divided party, and also pursue dialogue with the federal government - a clear departure from the López Obrador strategy of eschewing all contact with and acknowledgement of the administration of President Felipe Calderón.
The New Left favors working cooperatively with other political factions, in contrast to the United Left, a coalition of factions loyal to López Obrador and Encinas.
PRD politicians loyal to Ortega also broke ranks with López Obrador over the energy reform issue last month, negotiating a deal with the politicians from other parties.
Encinas supporters on Wednesday also expressed their disgust with the Trife, a federal judicial body that referees internal party squabbles and electoral disputes - and which ruled against López Obrador´s claims of fraud in the 2006 presidential election.