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ELECTORAL COURT DECLARES FELIPE CALDERON PRESIDENT-ELECT.

As expected, the federal electoral tribunal (Tribunal Electoral del Poder Judicial de la Federacion, TEPJF) declared Felipe Calderon of the center-right Partido Accion Nacional (PAN) president-elect. Calderon defeated Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador of the center-left Coalicion por el Bien de Todos by fewer than 250,000 votes in the July 2 election, the Instituto Federal Electoral (IFE) reported shortly after the vote (see SourceMex, 2006-07-12). That advantage was reduced by about 4,000 votes after the TEPJF, also known as the TRIFE, conducted a review of about 10% of the precincts, mostly in states won by the PAN (see SourceMex, 2006-08-09 and 2006-08-30). In ordering the partial recount, the TEPJF rejected Lopez Obrador's request for a full vote-by-vote recount, which he said would provide evidence of systematic fraud.

In announcing its unanimous decision to declare Calderon the winner, the seven-member electoral court again noted some irregularities and campaign violations, but rejected the premise that massive fraud occurred.

Among the campaign violations and irregularities, the court cited instances of illegal campaigning on the part of President Vicente Fox and Spain's ex-Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar on behalf of Calderon. Aznar's comments to a PAN assembly in favor of Calderon were widely reported by the Mexican news media (see SourceMex, 2006-03-01).

The TEPJF also scolded the Consejo Coordinador Empresarial (CCE) for taking out improper television and radio advertisements on behalf of the PAN candidate.

The court said, however, that there was no concrete evidence that these violations ultimately played a role in the outcome of the election.

After reading the verdict, TEPJF president Leonel Castillo called on Mexicans to unite and mend the deep divisions the election revealed. "I hope we conclude this electoral process leaving confrontation behind," he said.

The court's decision met with approval from a wide segment of Mexico's population, revealed a public-opinion poll by the daily Mexico City newspaper Reforma. In the poll, 74% of the 450 respondents agreed with the court's decision, compared with 21% opposed and 5% with no opinion.

Calderon, scheduled to take office Dec. 1, has called for a national reconciliation and dialogue with Lopez Obrador.

The center-left candidate has rejected Calderon?s overtures, threatening to continue a campaign of mass protests and civil disobedience to block the new president's ability to govern. "I will not recognize anyone who parades himself as the head of the federal government without any legitimate or democratic credentials," Lopez Obrador told supporters in Mexico City's central square, the Zocalo, on the day that the TEPJF declared Calderon president-elect. (Sources: Agencia de noticias Proceso, 09/04/06, 09/05/05; Reuters, Notimex, 09/05/05; Los Angeles Times, The Dallas Morning News, El Economista, El Financiero, Reforma, Milenio Diario, La Jornada, La Cronica de Hoy, 09/05/06, 09/06/06; The Chicago Tribune, The Arizona Republic, Excelsior, The New York Times, The Herald-Mexico City, 09/06/06)
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Publication:SourceMex Economic News & Analysis on Mexico
Date:Sep 6, 2006
Words:479
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