Random Musings Day: The Mexican Presidential Election -- Some kudos due the Washington Post today for devoting space to dueling op-eds. While there is still no clear winner in the election, there is a clear loser in the op-ed battle: Leftist PRD challenger Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who is represented by a close adviser, Jorge de los Santos. In his op-ed piece, Mr. de los Santos takes the quite reasonable position, familiar to American supporters of Al Gore's near-miss 2000 campaign..."Be patient. Recount the Votes." http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/07/26/AR2006072601494.html. This is an entirely reasonable argument, especially since the rules of the election allow Mr. Obrador to take his challenge to Mexico's electoral commission, the ICE. This commission is empowered to order a recount, if its members are persuaded a recount would be appropriate.
Unfortunately, Mr. Obrador has been anything but patient or reasonable. As is recounted in the companion piece by Enrique Krauze, Mr. Obrador has been acting like a megalomaniac and seems to be on the verge of calling for revolution. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/07/26/AR2006072601497.html. Mr. Obrador would seem to view his circumstances as similar to that of Viktor Yuschenko, whose supporters rallied to prevent the blatant theft of the Ukranian presidency in 2004, with the brilliant and courageous Orange Revolution.
The two situations could hardly be more dissimilar. One huge difference is that Mexico has set up a genuinely independent forum to review any competent evidence of irregularities. Another difference is the popular support that Yuschenko enjoyed. There was scarcely any doubt as to the people's real choice in Ukraine...the evidence of fraud was overwhelming. In Mexico, Mr. Obrador appears ready to go to the mat to pursue his charges of fraud in the vote tallies, but there is no evidence of widespread support for his challenge...and there does not appear to be any compelling evidence to support his allegations of fraud.
There are reasons for the ICE rules. They should be followed. If there is evidence of fraud, the ICE should pursue that evidence wherever it may lead, the consequences be damned. If the ICE sees fit to order a nationwide recount, that decision should be respected by Mr. Calderon's supporters. But Mr. Obrador should also be prepared to accept whatever ruling the ICE brings down.
I can say it really sucked here in the U.S.A., when the Supreme Court maneuvered around the Florida Supreme Court to bring an end to court-ordered local recounts, because the US Supremes decided there was not enough time to conduct a statewide recount. But the Gore camp understood the rules of the game in this regard. Under the rules we live by, for good or ill, The U.S. Supreme Court got to have the final say on that day. One wonders whether Mr. Obrador understands this bit of wisdom.