He concedes that the very close election will certainly test Mexico, but notes that "close elections are always dangerous" because a just-short-of-majority of people may be "resentful and angry." (He draws the obvious comparison to the US election in 2000.) We ultimately survived the election of 2000 because we have a long-established commitment to our democratic procedures. As a practical matter we generally all (excepting a few die-hard leftists) acknowledged Bush as our President, and nobody has seriously advocated overthrow of the government. But it was our tradition carried us through, not the credibility of our specific processes and election administration, which were shown to be sorely lacking. In Mexico, trust in democratic procedures is still nascent at best, and if their democracy survives this election, it will be on the strength of their electoral institutions (as well as the actions of the winner in working to heal the divide). I think Pastor is also right that the US could stand to learn from its neighbor as far as election administration goes. Look further than both these elections, there may well be lessons to be drawn from the US and Mexico in terms of the importance of institution and process versus trust and tradition that should be applied wherever we're attempting to "transplant" democracy onto foreign soil (as in Iraq).
Meanwhile, Gregory Rodriguez offers an intriguing assessment of Lopez Obrador (AMLO) as a potential threat to Mexico's democracy. AMLO seems intent on not accepting any result other than his own victory in the election. Rodriguez writes of AMLO:
Indignant over his loss, he has accused Mexico's Federal Electoral Institute of "manipulating" votes. In so doing, he is not only impugning the credibility of one of the nation's most trusted organizations, he is encouraging the type of cynicism about politics that helped semi-authoritarian regimes maintain power in Mexico for most of the 20th century.Lopez Obrador has summoned his followers to rally in the Zocalo (the large central square in the capital) to protest the apparent election results which declared his opponent Calderón the winner. Whereas the protestors in the immediate wake of the 2000 US election were demanding to "count every vote", AMLO is all but saying he won’t accept a loss even if the recounts go against him. Rodriguez offers an insightful diagnosis here:
Because populism traditionally thrives in profoundly unequal societies where the dispossessed don't trust the system to solve their problems; where they turn, instead, to charismatic figures they hope will take on the state, defeat it and funnel its largesse away from the elite and toward the poor. They put their faith in leaders rather than in democratic processes. It's a recipe for authoritarianism.I have not been familiar enough with Mexican politics to have a strong opinion about the election, but I have to admit the Lopez Obrador’s behavior this week has certainly got me hoping that Calderón is ultimately declared the winner (and that AMLO hasn’t abused his influence too greatly in undermining Mexico’s fledgling faith in democracy).