Mexican election cloaked in doubt

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As the July 5, 2006 article “Mexican election cloaked in doubt” suggests, uncovering the fact that 3.5 million ballots were initially not counted in the recent Mexican election exposes the vulnerability in the country’s infant democracy. Mexico’s democratic institutions, especially the Federal Election Institute (IFE), face a difficult task in maintaining public trust and order while manually having to recount, by hand every one of the more than forty million ballots which were cast in the July 2 elections. With stakes very high for both sides of Mexico’s political spectrum, the process must not be rushed. As political analyst Gabriel Guerra Castellanos rightly points out, the IFE is sluggish and guarded, however, these characteristics may be the very ones that the country needs at this moment.

Transparency is also important, but officials should be careful when exposing incomplete tallies in the process, for they can be used as political weapons. Still, each of the candidates should be allowed to comment on how the recount is proceeding, furthering the democratic process. Lopez Orbador should have the freedom to challenge every phase of the recount process, even if this means calling for peaceful street protests in order to busy his neighbors and campaign workers. Dialogue and responding to questions posed by ostensibly vanquished candidates, are an integral component in any phase of a genuine democracy, and for Mexico’s evolving society with a very troubled past, a steadfast embracing of civil liberties is key.