Leading article: Another election ends in stand-off

Share

A full three days after the election, Mexico still has no new President. With the two front-runners claiming victory, and separated by less than 1 per cent of the vote, the country's election watchdog has declared the result too close to call. An official count begins today; it could be a week before there is a result - and then only if there is no subsequent challenge from either of the main parties.

The advantage lies with the Conservative candidate, Felipe Calderon; the initial count gave him 400,000 votes more than his left-wing rival, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador. A victory for Mr Calderon would mean that Mexico had bucked the leftward trend in Latin America and chosen to continue the course set by the outgoing President, Vicente Fox. The US administration would be happy, and so - initially - would investors. There had been fears that Mr Obrador, former mayor of Mexico City, champion of the poor, might call his supporters on to the streets. So far, to his credit, he has refrained from appealing to people-power to override the electoral process. He has pledged instead to use every legal avenue to challenge the result. That could include another recount and a battle through the courts.

Whatever happens, the delay allows plenty of time for mischief-making. Genuine democracy in Mexico is only six years old and Mr Obrador's supporters already believe they were robbed. Their leader will have to show a cool head and the counting will have to be both punctilious and transparent if potentially explosive discontent is to be avoided.

Anticipating victory, Mr Calderon has already undertaken to form a conciliatory government. This may, however, be more easily said than done. The voters had a clear choice between left and right, between state intervention and the free market. They were evenly split, with the balance held by the country's once dominant, but politically amorphous, Institutional Revolutionary Party, which could join the winner in a coalition.

Mexico may not quite have followed the trend to the left in Latin America, but its election fits another pattern. It is the latest democratic vote to have ended, in effect, in a draw, producing the very uncertainty that elections were supposed to prevent.

Since the epic stand-off between George Bush and Al Gore for the US Presidency in 2000, we have seen deadlocked elections in Germany, Ukraine, Italy and, most recently, the Czech Republic. On current figures, it is even predicted that the next British general election could be drawn. Whatever factors produce such results, a tied election inevitably tests other aspects of the state - including the courts and public civility - to their limits. We hope that in Mexico they will be strong enough to stand the strain.

React Now

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Supply Chain Manager

Not Specified: Recruitment Genius: One of the UK's most progressive and innova...

SQL Developer

£40000 - £45000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: SQL Develope...

Senior .NET Developer

£40000 - £50000 per annum + benefits: Progressive Recruitment: This exciting c...

Business Analyst - Horsham - Competitive Salary

Negotiable: Deerfoot IT Resources Limited: Business Analyst - Horsham, West Su...

Day In a Page

Read Next
A young Palestinian boy walks over debris from a house that was destroyed in an airstrike in Deir Al Balah  

The Middle East debate has more to do with the fashion for revolutionary tourism than real politics

James Bloodworth
 

The daily catch-up: what if Hillary sticks, drowning sorrows and open sesame

John Rentoul
Super Mario crushes the Messi dream as Germany win the 2014 World Cup in Brazil

Super Mario crushes the Messi dream

Germany win the 2014 World Cup in Brazil
Saharan remains may be evidence of the first race war, 13,000 years ago

The first race war, 13,000 years ago?

Saharan remains may be evidence of oldest large-scale armed conflict
Scientists find early warning system for Alzheimer’s

Scientists find early warning system for Alzheimer’s

Researchers hope eye tests can spot ‘biomarkers’ of the disease
Sex, controversy and schoolgirl schtick

Meet Japan's AKB48

Pop, sex and schoolgirl schtick make for controversial success
In pictures: Breathtaking results of this weekend's 'supermoon'

Weekend's 'supermoon' in pictures

The moon appeared bigger and brighter at the weekend
Iraq crisis: How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over the north of the country

How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over northern Iraq

A speech by an ex-MI6 boss hints at a plan going back over a decade. In some areas, being Shia is akin to being a Jew in Nazi Germany, says Patrick Cockburn
The evolution of Andy Serkis: First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

The evolution of Andy Serkis

First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial: Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried

You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial...

Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried
Refugee children from Central America let down by Washington's high ideals

Refugee children let down by Washington's high ideals

Democrats and Republicans refuse to set aside their differences to cope with the influx of desperate Central Americas, says Rupert Cornwell
Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Malorie Blackman appeals for a better ethnic mix of authors and characters and the illustrator Quentin Blake comes to the rescue
Blackest is the new black: Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...

Blackest is the new black

Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...
Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

The US Ambassador to London holds 'jeans and beer' gigs at his official residence – it's all part of the job, he tells Chris Green
Meet the Quantified Selfers: From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor

Meet the 'Quantified Selfers'

From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor
Madani Younis: Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Madani Younis wants the neighbourhood to follow his work as closely as his audiences do
Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

When it comes to national stereotyping, the Irish – among others – know it can pay to play up to outsiders' expectations, says DJ Taylor