A Warning to Lopez Obrador

Article excerpt

Byline: THE WASHINGTON TIMES

The Mexican Federal Electoral Institute (IFE) announced on Thursday that National Action Party leader Felipe Calderon had won the presidential election by 243,000 votes. Mr. Calderon's margin of victory over his populist opponent, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, amounted to only one-half of one percent of the 41 million votes cast slim, to be sure, but certainly not slim enough to warrant the ballot-by-ballot recount for which Mr. Lopez Obrador has called, unless it's proved that serious discrepancies have been overlooked.

It's not unreasonable for Mr. Lopez Obrador to question legitimate irregularities where they occur, but the independent IFE provides the proper forum for such questions to be raised. The way that Mr. Lopez Obrador conducts himself today at the rally he has called in Mexico City will be a bellwether of how he will use his supporters while the electoral court reviews his expected challenge over the next several weeks and also a bellwether of his respect for Mexican democracy. So far, the indicators are not good. Mr. Lopez Obrador has frantically alleged fraud and conspiracy, as he has done multiple times in his political career. His calls for a rally today have been those of a man eager to fight.

Mr. Lopez Obrador should realize the severity of the blow he would deal his country if he attempts to channel his popular support against the IFE and the federal court. Vicente Fox's victory six years ago, which ended seven decades of single-party rule, was a substantial boon for democracy in Mexico, and that progress will be thoroughly undone should Mr. …