28 July 2006

Lopez Obrador calls himself, "President"



Although he fell short in the official count by some 240,000 votes and garnered the support of just 35 percent of the electorate, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador crowned himself the election victor anyway, saying in television interviews last Wednesday, “I am the president of Mexico by the will of the majority.

“I have absolute certainty that we triumphed.”

Taking a firm stance, the left-leaning Democratic Revolution Party (PRD) candidate continued calling the July 2 election fraudulent and demanding a vote-by-vote recount. He also voiced support for annuling the results, saying, “It would be the most viable and convenient outcome for Mexico,” and added that he wouldn’t step back and try running again in 2012, telling U.S. network Univision, “I couldn’t do that. I’m already president ... I won the presidential election.”

National Action Party (PAN) officials immediately rebuked the remarks. Party General Secretary Cesar Nava described Lopez Obrador’s announcements as “messianic ... of the old style of Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna.” (Santa Anna governed Mexico 11 times in the 1800s and kept returning to power despite calamitous tenures in office.)

The former Mexico City mayor “is not behaving like a democrat,” Nava added.

“[He] is not a democrat and does not respect laws made by elected officials,” commented George Grayson, a government professor at the College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia, who has written a book on Lopez Obrador.

The PRD planned a massive rally in Mexico City for Sunday to press their case for a vote-by-vote recount, a provision not included in Mexican election law. Grayson said the law excludes the possibility of a recount due to fears of vote tampering. He also pointed out that many members of Lopez Obrador’s inner circle were once Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) figures, who were involved in the contested 1988 election, which Cuauhtemoc Cardenas (the PRD’s founder) might have won.
Somewhat ironically, Lopez Obrador accused his opponent of engaging in unseemly tactics from the presidency of Carlos Salinas, the 1988 winner. Lopez Obrador’s senior advisor Manuel Camacho Solis served in Salinas’ cabinet and was allegedly involved in the 1988 election scandal, working against the PRD’s predecessor.

Felipe Calderon, having won the vote count by a slim margin, proposed forming a coalition government. The PRD, however, rejected the idea. Party demonstrators have protested outside the election tribunal offices and numerous businesses – part of the establishment Lopez Obrador, who casts himself as an outsider and champion of the poor and downtrodden, railed against during his campaign.

Lopez Obrador has said the protests would end if a recount is announced. Camacho told the Washington Times earlier this week, “We think that destabilization of the country will be the outcome if there is not a recount.”

Several analysts called that kind of talk “blackmail.” A Grupo Reforma survey taken on July 13 found that 60 percent of respondents opposed a vote-by-vote recount. An equal number believed the election results were trustworthy.
Writing in Publico, Guillermo Valdes described Lopez Obrador’s posturing as “accede to my demand or the country goes up in flames.”

The lack of proof presented by Lopez Obrador disturbed others, including Publico editor Diego Petersen Farah, who commented, “The fraud of July 2 is now believed. No one saw it. No one can explain it, but it’s there. There aren’t two perredistas that can explain it in the same way.”

George Grayson sees the post-election unrest continuing for some time to come.

“(Lopez Obrador) believes the system to be illegitimate ... (and) will not accept the results unless the seven magistrates [of the election tribunal] decide that he is president-elect.”

From the Guadalajara Reporter

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