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Calderon Named Mexico's President-Elect

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The Associated Press
Tuesday, September 5, 2006; 1:48 PM

MEXICO CITY -- Felipe Calderon became president-elect of Mexico on Tuesday, two months after disputed elections, when the nation's top electoral court voted unanimously to reject allegations of fraud and certify his narrow victory.

His leftist rival, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, had said he would not recognize the ruling. His supporters wept as the decision was announced and the courthouse shook as protesters set off fireworks outside.

"Felipe Calderon didn't win. Fraud won," opposition supporter Francisca Ojeda said, screaming to be heard over protesters throwing trash at the court and screaming "Fraud! Fraud!"

The court found no evidence of systematic fraud, although it threw out some polling place results for mathematical errors, irregularities, and other problems that trimmed Calderon's 240,000-vote advantage to 233,831 votes out of 41.6 million cast.

"There are no perfect elections," Judge Alfonsina Berta Navarro Hidalgo said.

The tribunal's decision was final and cannot be appealed.

Tuesday's long-awaited ruling by the Federal Electoral Tribunal _ which came two months, three days, and tens of thousands of pages of legal challenges after voters cast their ballots _ was unlikely to end potentially explosive protests or close the growing political divide gripping the country.

Calderon, staying out of sight at the ruling party offices, now must win over millions of Mexicans angry that President Vicente Fox didn't make good on promises of sweeping change _ and fend off thousands of radicalized leftists who say they will stop at nothing to undermine his presidency.

Lopez Obrador and his supporters claimed fraud, illicit government spending and dirty tricks swayed the election in favor of Calderon, a member of Fox's National Action Party.

"This has been fraudulent from start to finish," 23-year-old protester Claudio Martinez said.

The court rejected Lopez Obrador's "dirty campaign" allegations, but said Fox put the election at risk with his comments on the campaign.

Lopez Obrador had argued that an ad campaign comparing him to Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez illegally affected the elections. But the court said that while the ads had a strong impact, it was not enough to change the result. It also pointed out that Lopez Obrador used his own attack ads against Calderon.

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© 2006 The Associated Press

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