Candidates Claim Victory, But Official Results Will Have to Wait

At least when Al Gore and George W. Bush argued over who won, they did it in private, over the telephone. But tonight, in a remarkable display of political machismo, the two men who would be Mexico's next president both declared they had in fact won.

But election officials had already told this divided nation it won't have a result until Wednesday.

At 11 p.m., Luis Carlos Ugalde, president of the Federal Electoral Commission, said the race between Felipe Calderón, the conservative status quo candidate, and Andrés Manuel López Obrador, a liberal promising to lift up the poor, was too close to call.

"The gap between the first and second place is very narrow," making it impossible to declare a winner, Ugalde said in a nationally televised address. No sooner had Ugalde sent Mexicans off to bed than López Obrador was on television declaring himself the winner.

"According to our statistics, we have won the presidency," he told supporters and reporters gathered at a downtown hotel. Throwing down the gauntlet, López Obrador said that while he respects the electoral institutions in Mexico, he wants them to respect his results. (Not quite clear how he has a count, but let's not get hung up on details at this hour.)

The "triumph is irreversible," López Obrador said, adding that he was headed to Mexico City's massive Zocalo to greet throngs of supporters who had waited for hours in the rain.

Then it was Calderón's turn to march in front of the cameras and announce he was really the victor. "According to our statistics," he said, rattling off a list of polling places, "we have been winning" from the start.

Next López Obrador showed up in the Zocalo, scene of his massive closing rally on Wednesday night.

"We will count box by box, district by district," he told his soaked supporters. "We will have all the documents to demonstrate that we won."

Does this remind anyone else of that rainy November night in 2000 when Gore told Bush, "You don't have to get snippy"?

Even President Vicente Fox got into the act, taking to the airwaves to praise the electoral commission for doing its job so well. Mexicans, he said, could have absolute confidence in the process and the eventual outcome.

Turnout, at 60 percent, was on par with the 2004 U.S. presidential contest. Throughout the evening, several Web sites kept a running tally. As returns trickled in, the margin was between 2 and 3 percentage points with Calderón slightly ahead. But it was unclear where those early returns had come from, making it impossible to judge if they tracked with national trends or favored one region of the country.

Ugalde, sweating as he read the remarkable statement, urged Mexicans to remain patient and calm. Another announcement is expected at 2 p.m. Monday, when officials hope to have 50 percent of the ballots tabulated.

It seems El Universal got it right with its 8 p.m. front page. The one word headline: Tie (PDF).

Here's the story from Monday's Washington Post: "Mexican Presidential Rivals Both Claim Win in Tight Vote."

By |  July 3, 2006; 1:03 AM ET  | Category:  Campaign Conexión
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Despite what many Mexicans may have hoped this is the worst possible outcome of the election. I just hope everyone keeps their cool else it might be a real hot summer in Mexico.

Posted by: Todd | July 3, 2006 01:47 AM

You got it Todd. Let's just hope that when the IFE announces the official results, Mexico has a clear victor and all the candidates respect the results. Otherwise...

Posted by: Lito | July 3, 2006 01:51 AM

Your (Washington Post's) article says:

"(Not quite clear how he [Lopez Obrador] has a count, but let's not get hung up on details at this hour.)"

The San Jose Mercury news clarifies what count Lopez Obrador is referring to. The San Jose Mercury news says:

"The electoral institute had planned to announce the result of a "quick count" of representative polling districts at 11 p.m. local time, but canceled that plan after the count was too close to determine a winner. [..]

"Lopez Obrador told supporters in a nationally televised address that the national "quick count" had given him a 500,000 vote lead, out of more than 40 million ballots cast."

-- San Jose Mercury News

Mexicans must not allow this election to be stolen, as Cuauhtemoc Cardenas's election victory was stolen from him in the 1988 presidential elections.


Posted by: Arturo | July 3, 2006 03:13 AM

I have faith in IFE that it has run a fair and transparent election, unlike those prior to 2000. Until proven otherwise, let's make sure they get it right.

Posted by: vivabush04OH | July 3, 2006 07:37 AM

I'm surprised that the turnout was as low as stated (60%).
What with all the marketing, I expected higher--like 70%. In my opinion, low turnout favors the middle-class PAN. Lopez needed a big turnout to make up what he would lose to the PRI candidate.
I see Calderon coming in at 38%, Lopez at 35%, Madrazo at 25%.

Posted by: vivabush04OH | July 3, 2006 09:51 AM

Arturo, Lopez Obrador wasn't referring to the IFE's numbers. Here is what he said.

"quiero informar al pueblo de México que de acuerdo a nuestros datos, ganamos la presidencia de la República."

"Nuestros datos" means "our numbers".

Posted by: RC | July 3, 2006 12:36 PM

Who is surprised by this tight race ? Who will be surprised by the conservative elements eventual seizing of power during and at the end of the next three days as the election count continues? Why do you suppose Vicente Fox visited Washington prior to the election ? The only unanswered question left is will the Mexican people again roll over and continue to be surpressed or will they take to defending their democracy in the streets.

Posted by: Steve Shrader | July 3, 2006 01:25 PM

Please refer to the Federal Elections Institute ( IFE ) web site, www.ife.gob,mx/prep , for official results. As of right now, with 97.6% percent of all ballots counted, Calderon goes ahead with 372,000 votes more than Obrador - that`s 36% to Calderon, 35% to Obrador. It is impossible to see this as a fraud. Everyone can track its vote down to the record sent by the poll booth where everyone voted. Since 8.00 in the evening of yesterday, these results have been displayed. A number of exit polls indicated an extremely close race. The election is way clean - nothing to do with 1988, when the then in charge of the elections ( a brother in law or something of the state`s candidate ) announced that the system crashed.

Let me remark that I do not think that, with 98% of the ballot counted, the 1% advantage will dissapear, rather , it will be confirmed. Obrador has no one else to blame but himself, he is his worst enemy.

Posted by: hugh | July 3, 2006 01:32 PM

The credibiity of IFE is in doubt, i dont want a presindent "pelele" as Calderon is, inept as Fox, so have just wait for ther results, but I thougth that from Fox's goverment exist plot between PAN and Fox to make fraud, because they know that the majority wants a real change, and this one is with AMLO, and i dont think that Calderon is winning, so, if Calderon win, it will be a massive protest there's no doubt.

Posted by: Leslie | July 3, 2006 02:03 PM

Hey folks, get a clue, this is not the USA where liberals can cry election fraud with little but rumor and myth to try and pass it off as fact.

Since 1998 IFE has run federal and state elections with tranparency and honesty. No party plays a part in conducting the electoral process like in the USA where BOTH parties play a part.

This election was run fair and square and the outcome was predicted to be close. Unlike the USA where dead people show up to vote or folks plied with coke and cigarettes, in Mexico you need a tamper-proof photo ID with a thumbprint to prove you are who you say you are.

I have faith that everyone voted who wanted to and who was eligible to, can't say the same about most US urban areas.

350,000-400.000 vote margin is substantial to prove victory by any candidate.

Like all elections, it was the turn out that determined this. Calderon's people got more of theirs to the polls than did Lopez.


Posted by: VIVABUSH04OH | July 3, 2006 02:16 PM

The real story here is what Lopez Obrador will do once the final result shows that Calderon won. He has been laying the groundwork for many months claiming conspiracies against him and citing phantom polls showing he would win, even when all respectable scientific polls done by third parties showed him losing.

He did the same thing Sunday night, claiming "our numbers" indicate "we won." He never presents these polls to the news media for scrutiny, so they are, to say the least, highly suspect.

The real plan is to call people out onto the streets after the official results are announced. Lopez Obrador will try to shut down the country with protests and will go even further than he already has to promote class warfare. The only thing that would be worse for Mexico would be IFE pronouncing him the winner.

Posted by: Goyo | July 3, 2006 02:31 PM

I'm sick and tired of these innuendo-based scare tactics from the right! (see, for example, Goyo). What AMLO is asking is to confront the electronic results with the actual records from polling places. This doesn't differ from what IFE's director said yesterday. When has ANYBODY called for "taking the streets"? Defending the vote means making sure, to the extent possible, that votes for AMLO were all tallied. That's all. If Mr. Calderon wins, he has done it riding the fright horse, waiving the lies banner. If he wins, let's see if he is able to govern with the truth.

Posted by: pasilla | July 3, 2006 03:38 PM

800,000 nulified votes seem like a lot to me, especially with the difference being around 300K votes.

Posted by: Emilio | July 3, 2006 04:34 PM

"800,000 nullified votes?"

State your facts.

Posted by: VIVABUSH04OH | July 3, 2006 04:52 PM

"This election was run fair and square" . Please. The IFE being above reproach for the way it has handled elections since 1998? Son, that dog don't hunt.
The wonderful IFE took one month to remove the libelous ads that Calderon ran about Lopez Obrador being a threat to Mexico and comparable to Hugo Chavez. One month! That's fair? They were left up to run long enough to do the intended damage.
The CCE (Consejo Coordinador Empresarial) then comes out with an exhortation for people to vote when in fact it was a thinly veiled call for continuity and support for Calderon. Was the IFE on top of that constitutionally illegal ploy? Not on your life. The ads were finally pulled, but by judicial decision.
Please don't paint the IFE as some holier-than-thou, above the fray body. Recent history has proven otherwise.
This is 2006. It is not 1988. But for many of the participants in the PRD campaign, the maneuverings last night between the IFE, TV Azteca and Televisa were reminiscent of that night in 1988 when Manuel Bartlett was the IFE and declared that the vote tallying system had gone down. While I am not in total agreement with the tactics of Lopez Obrador last night in saying their figures showing victory were irreversible, I understand what he was attempting to do.
Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.

Posted by: Keith Dannemiller | July 3, 2006 05:08 PM

As I said in this blog a few days ago, the elephant in the living room was regionalism... the North will give Calderon his win, and it was mainly Chilangos (tax-sucking Mexico City parasytes) that gave AMLO his biggest share of the vote. Many independents and left-of-center people of the north such as myself held our noses and voted Calderon as the lesser evil. I got a good deal of abuse for saying so, but I was proven right. Lets just hope the PRI does not completely implode, we needed ...

Posted by: Gabriel | July 3, 2006 05:15 PM

"Lets just hope the PRI does not completely implode"


Posted by: shawn | July 3, 2006 05:40 PM

"Chilangos (tax-sucking Mexico City parasytes) that gave AMLO his biggest share of the vote..."

That's very nice, Gabriel. And then people like you dare to accuse AMLO of fomenting class-warfare...

Posted by: pasilla | July 3, 2006 07:50 PM


826,695 nulified votes so far according to the PREP

Posted by: Emilio | July 3, 2006 08:12 PM

Defenders of AMLO make some good, spirited points here, but I don't see evidence yet that any irregularities deprived him of the victory. There are always mistakes in any human endeavor, especially one in which you had people voting at 130 thousand polling places all over a country the size of Mexico. To make the case that these nullified ballots and other problems skewed the results, you would have to show that there was a coordinated effort to produce such problems in areas where AMLO was likely to win.

If the current trend holds, Calderon will win and Mexico will have ducked another bullet in the form of a government run by a messianic kook who seems to have no understanding of Mexico's need to compete in the real world. China has taken thousands of jobs that should have gone to Mexico while the PRD and the old dinosaurs of the PRI blocked all of Fox's reform proposals. While the Mexican left worries about hegemony from the United States, the world moves on and Mexico falls behind. Calderon's programs offer Mexico the chance to become the rich country it should be. If rule of law and expansion of the middle class continue, rich Mexicans will keep their money at home and the billions in remittances from immigrants will do some good in building better local economic conditions around the country.

Lopez Obrador represented a step backwards to the time of leftist PRI leaders like Echevarria and Lopez Portillo, who nearly ruined the country with their policies.

Que viva Mexico!

Posted by: Goyo | July 3, 2006 09:16 PM

It`s over guys. There`s no way AMLO can reverse a 400,000 votes difference.The election was way clean. Some people worry about the havoc of AMLO taking the streets. I do not. Let him worry about the havoc caused by Calderon supporters (14 + million mexicans ) if he takes that decision.

Posted by: Hugh | July 4, 2006 12:16 PM

What AMLO is basically demanding from IFE is that a difference of 500,000 votes in his favor (he does not elaborate where he got that number from) are to determine the winner of the election, regardless of the outcome of PREP and district vote counting, which is to begin on wednesday, and will yield the official winner. For months, AMLO has been preparing for this scenario, where he loses by a very small margin, by disqualifying IFE. IFE has ran impeccable elections in 2000 and 2006. So impeccable, in fact, that PRI did not find any arguments to challenge the 2000 results. The general perception in Mexico, is that AMLO has lost the election, but IFE is trying to find the best way and moment to break him the news.

Posted by: MexicanInMexico | July 4, 2006 05:17 PM

"in Mexico you need a tamper-proof photo ID with a thumbprint to prove you are who you say you are."

And 100 pesos and a free tshirt will rent use of that tamper proof card.
If you are looking for a pattern of vote buying, you have to wonder, is it easier to buy poor or rich people?

Class war to help himself to riches, sounds like hugo chavez to me. Preached to venezuela, up with the hes worth over 500 million and the flood destroyed slums are still leveled 2 years later.

Good for Mexico.

Posted by: Charlotte | July 4, 2006 11:51 PM

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