Thursday, 06 July

Mexico’ official recount shows Lopez Obrador leading

The official manual recount of Sunday ballots in Mexico’s tight presidential election is showing Social-democrat candidate Manuel Lopez Obrador leading over his Conservative rival Felipe Calderon by 2.53 points.

According to the Mexican Federal Electoral Institute, (IFE), with 60.07% of record proceedings checked, Lopez Obrador has 37.09% of votes and Calderon 34.56%, which makes it too close "to risk a definitive tendency".

Roberto Madrazo from the once all powerful Institutional Revolutionary Party, PRI, trails with 21.79% and independent Patrica Mercado, 2.75%.

However this signals a dramatic change from last Sunday’s Preliminary Results Program, sponsored by IFE, which on closing voting booths projected a scenario showing Mr. Calderon ahead with less than one percentage point.

IFE at the time said "it was too close to call", but this did not impede both candidates, Lopez Obrador and Calderon from proclaiming themselves winners in their respective celebration rallies.

Considered the tightest presidential election in Mexican history, final results are not expected until next Sunday when the total 300 electoral districts of the country have been recounted, as Lopez Obrador is demanding. Calderon argues there’s only need to recount those "where there are differences in the records’ proceedings".

Lopez Obrador from the start, claimed manipulation of numbers and described IFE’s preliminary results program as "non reliable".

IFE preliminary program showed early Wednesday that Calderon had 14.771.009 votes (36.38%) and Lopez Obrador, 14.513.477 (35.34%), a minimal difference of 257.532 votes, but also admitted "inconsistencies" in the electoral record proceedings involving 2.58 million votes.

Calderon called on his followers to "remain on guard" until the process is formally over because "we need to make sure the final count is handed correctly".

Mexico now faces days, possibly weeks, of wrangling that could go all the way to the Federal Electoral court.

Over 70 million Mexicans were registered to vote and almost 65% went to the voting booths, so the vote recount could involve over 45 million ballots.

Whoever is finally elected, Mexico’s next president will be taking office December 1, for a six year mandate, and will be forced to hammer an alliance since Congress is split almost in three even percentages between the two leading candidates and the PRI, which is particularly strong in rural areas.