We may have a winner in Mexico

Dan Grech Jul 6, 2006

TEXT OF INTERVIEW

MARK AUSTIN THOMAS: While you were sleeping, Mexican officials have been counting and re-counting votes in the Presidential election. Both main candidates have had razor-thin margins at different moments. Our Americas Desk Correspondent Dan Gretch is in Mexico City. Dan, this has been one crazy night where you are to say the least. What’s happened?

DAN GRECH: Mark it has been crazy. The vote tally started yesterday morning and from the very beginning leftist Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador was leading. But as the night wore on you saw a steady erosion of his lead and then finally at about 4:07 a.m. local time, conservative Felipe Calderon took over and is now assured the victory. It was kind of like watching Calderon hit a home run in the bottom of the 9th with two out.

MARK AUSTIN THOMAS: I noticed that yesterday Calderon actually talked with the Associated Press about including Lopez Obrador in his Cabinet, but I don’t get the sense that Lopez Obrador is as conciliatory in his response to the election results.

DAN GRECH: Lopez Obrador went to bed around 3 a.m. last night, around the time when it became really clear that the results would be against him and at 8:30 this morning he held a press conference and he was anything but conciliatory. Here’s what he said:

[ LOPEZ OBRADOR in Spanish: Nosotros vamos a. . . ]

He’s basically saying that he can’t accept the results. He’s essentially accusing the opposition who is part of the current ruling party of rigging the election. And he said that he’s going to take the election to the Mexican Supreme Court to demand a ballot-by-ballot recount

MARK AUSTIN THOMAS: So what happens next? I’m sure there are a lot of people in the business community who know the economy could really suffer from a few more days of instability.

DAN GRECH: Well Mark, during this morning’s press conference Lopez Obrador called for a “informational meeting” on Saturday at 5 p.m. at the Zolcalo, Mexico’s largest public plaza. Lopez Obrador held a rally there to close his campaign exactly one week ago and there were tens of thousands of people. The man is truly loved here. So this is clearly an attempt to put pressure on the electoral authorities and the Supreme Court to rule in his favor. And in my opinion, it’s a not-so-veiled threat. He’s basically saying that he won’t step down without taking the fight to the streets, so we could see this thing drag on for weeks and even months.

MARK AUSTIN THOMAS: Thanks a lot Dan.

DAN GRECH: Thank you Mark.

MARK AUSTIN THOMAS: Marketplace’s Americas Desk Correspondent Dan Gretch in Mexico City.

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