The 2006 general elections in Mexico are worth remembering because of the subsequent uprising and street protests, which resulted to wide spread civil unrest. This uprising was as a result of the presidential election results that had close contenders by the two leading presidential candidates. The election took place on 2nd July 2006.
The main presidential contenders were Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador of PRD party and Felipe Calderon under the PAN party. Felipe got the ticket from members of his party PAN on December 5, 2005 to run as the president. Before the first presidential debate, in March that year, Andres was rating ahead of Felipe by the opinion polls. However, after the first presidential debate, Felipe’s popularity gained momentum. Between March and May, the opinion poll results began to indicate a closely contested election. Some gave Lopez the lead; on the other hand, others predicted a technical tie (Stromback and Kaid 383)
On 2nd July 2006, the Federal Elections Institute (FPI) pronounced that the election was extremely close to call and chose not to make public a large and well planned exit poll. Nevertheless, the preliminary results the following morning were indicating Felipe Calderon was leading with a small margin of 1.04%. The Federal Elections Institute requested candidates to refrain from pronouncing themselves as either president elect or a winner. The candidates did not regard this call, and Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador declared himself as the winner immediately. Subsequently, Felipe Calderon proclaimed victory stating the preliminary figures of Federal Elections institute which were indicating that he had won the election (Stromback and Kaid 383).
On the 6th July, the Federal Election institute declared the official results. The results were indicating a narrow margin of 0.58% with Felipe Calderon leading over his closest rival Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador. However, Lopez and his PRD party alleged irregularities in many polling stations and called for a recount nationally. The supporters of Lopez took to the street forming an organized opposition that effectively delayed outgoing president Vicente Fox’s state of the Nation address.
The protesters alleged irregularities such as illegal campaigning, corruption and buying of votes, annulled votes, ballots that were missing, as well as striking statistical anomalies that they found had no satisfying explanation. The supporters of Obrador formed a parallel congregational assembly, and in addition, they blocked access to banks owned by foreigners and business offices. The protesters as well as Andreas and his PRD party called vote recounting nationally. However, the Federal Elections tribunal declared that recounting of votes nationally as called for by the Andres supporters groundless and unfeasible. The tribunal ordered a recount of about 9% of the total 130,477 polling stations (Stromback and Kaid 384).
After the recount, the electoral court came to a conclusion that minor irregularities were there before and during the general elections which were nevertheless not enough to invalidate the election. The court in a unanimous decision upheld the election of Felipe Calderon and declared him as president elect with a lead of 233,831 votes and a percentage lead of 0.56%. This ruling was final, mandatory and could not be appealed. The PRD party planned to prevent Felipe Calderon from taking office; however, his inauguration into office went as planned in 1st December 2006 as he became the president of Mexico. Although the election ratification favored Felipe, this incidence indicates that sometime democracy can be destructive if people feel that they have nothing to lose. The incident was also a wake call to the political class to embrace constructive democracy where the contenders will respect people’s will. The people must learn to trust the institutions rather that resulting to protest. This will prevent a recurrence of what happened in Mexico in 2006.