September 17, 2006
Just as he had warned he would do, losing candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador convened his followers in the Zocalo in downtown Mexico City (after removing his encampments prior to Independence Day, however) and was acclaimed "president" by a show of hands. In spite of the lack of a meaningful vote count at this mass gathering, no one spoke up to demand a recount. (For security reasons, the official Independence Day ceremonies had been moved to the town of Dolores Hidalgo, where the independence movement was launched in 1810.) The BBC story is headlined "Mexican political crisis deepens," but I think the worst is over. I'm betting that AMLO's move is mainly a gesture of symbolic defiance, to keep up the spirits of his PRD workers. We will know better two and a half months from now, when Felipe Calderon is inaugurated president of Mexico. Even if there are boisterous jeers at the swearing-in, and even if AMLO sets up a "parallel government," it wouldn't be much different from what happened in the United States in January 2001. The Mexican Left will probably gripe and moan to get as much political mileage from the close election as they can, but they probably realize they have a lot more to lose than to gain if they shift from rhetorical defiance to actual subversion. They aren't dumb, and in democratic politics, "tomorrow is another day."