As Mexico Vote Dispute Winds Down, Obrador Gears Up ; Defeated Leftist Presidential Candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador Is Creating a 'Parallel Government.'

Article excerpt

Having lost his bid for Mexico's presidency after the top electoral court threw out fraud allegations and a recount revealed a final margin of just half a percentage point, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador is now calling for the creation of a "new republic" that addresses the stubborn gap between rich and poor.

The highly contested July 2 election and its aftermath revealed deep divisions in the country, fueling tensions with no apparent reconciliation in sight.

Yet if suspicion and rancor have marked this historic moment, just six years after Mexico emerged from beneath seven decades of authoritarian rule, violence has not.

"Of course, Mexico is at a crossroads," says John Ackerman, a law professor at the National Autonomous University of Mexico. "But modern Mexico is showing us we can have intense political conflict without violence."

Mr. Obrador says he wants his supporters to work peacefully on his behalf, but the reach, and impact, of his movement is still unclear.

"It's a very delicate moment. It still has a lot of uncertainties, because you can never know the possibilities of one charismatic leader leading the masses," says Enrique Krauze, a writer and historian in Mexico. "You don't need huge majorities to create really serious social strife."

For more than a month, Obrador and his followers occupied Mexico City's major thoroughfares to force a recount of all ballots. The protest, which strangled traffic and eroded public support, ended this weekend with a huge convention in Mexico City's main square Saturday. But Obrador, who quipped upon hearing of his loss, "to hell with the institutions," has not backed down, saying he refuses to ever recognize the victor, Felipe Calderon, as the country's leader.

"[Obrador] is my president," says Victoria Brocca, a writer in Mexico City who jumped excitedly at Saturday's convention, which drew tens of thousands of supporters, when hands shot up in the air to show support for the creation of Obrador's "parallel government. "Obrador will name a cabinet and be "inaugurated" Nov. 20, just days before Mr. Calderon takes office Dec. …