Mexico is in a mess because voters in its presidential election were so closely divided between Andrés Manuel López Obrador, the candidate of the center-left, and Felipe Calderón, the center-right candidate who was declared the narrow winner yesterday.How Mexico is different:
As a result, there are charges of theft and miscounts, of "grave inconsistencies." López Obrador has insisted that the authorities "help clear up any doubts" and "not allow the will of the citizens to be violated."
Let's be clear: There's nothing wrong with Mexico's voters. Close elections happen. The test of a democracy is how a bitter dispute of this sort is resolved. Can it be settled in a way that enhances confidence in the electoral process and the legitimacy of the ultimate winner?
Mexicans have one thing going for them: There is no question under Mexican law that the winner of the popular vote will be the winner of the election.And this:
But there are potential problems. López Obrador has had questions about the results in the state of Tabasco. Mr. Calderón and Mr. López Obrador, please, please make sure that you don't have some close relative in charge of things down there.And this one is still up in the air:
How would it look if the governor of the state was your own brother? What would people think if the top official in charge of elections was your sibling's partisan ally who made every key decision in your favor?
Another thing: Whichever one of you is ahead at any given point, please don't ask that the counting be stopped abruptly just because you happen to hold the lead. Don't have some high-class lawyer with a name like Jaime A. Panadero III come out and say things like, "I don't believe that the people of Mexico want this national election turned over to lawyers and court contests" -- and then have the very same lawyer direct other lawyers to go to court to stop any further counts.As is this one:
But, yes, there is an excellent chance that the Mexican election will end up in the courts. So it will be very important that the court rulings have credibility with the Mexican people, especially with those who end up on the losing side. The judges should exercise their power, well, judiciously. They need to make sure that they're not seen as making a partisan call.Another difference is that the candidates and the citizens of Mexico who think they were robbed of victory will not roll over and play dead like their counterparts in the US risking a bloody civil war. So will North America have two banana republics or one. We are about to find out.
Above all, this means not stopping recounts just before a deadline -- and then claiming, after the court-imposed delay, that there was no way to remedy the very problems in the counting that the court itself might have noted because the deadline had passed.
It means that the judges should arrive at whatever decision they reach in a way that's consistent with their past views. They should not invent wholly new doctrines, utterly at odds with their previous positions, that happen to favor the candidate closer to their own ideological inclinations.