Lopez Obrador Files Legal Challenge to Void Mexico Election

Mexican presidential candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador filed a legal challenge seeking to invalidate Enrique Pena Nieto’s July 1 victory, saying the Institutional Revolutionary Party bought votes and violated the country’s constitution.

“There was a massive vote-buying operation,” Lopez Obrador said at a press conference in Mexico City yesterday. Pena Nieto’s campaign has “cheated” the people, he said.

Lopez Obrador said that his campaign is presenting evidence to the nation’s electoral tribunal that the PRI, as Pena Nieto’s party is known, had ballots marked in favor of its candidate before the election began. Pena Nieto also benefited from favorable media coverage, Lopez Obrador said.

The PRI will defend the election’s results before the tribunal against the “unfounded” charges, party leader Pedro Joaquin Coldwell said in a televised speech yesterday following Lopez Obrador’s remarks.

A recount of more than half of 50.3 million ballots cast was completed July 6, giving Pena Nieto 38.2 percent compared with 31.6 percent for Lopez Obrador.

This is about “defending the votes of millions of Mexicans, who driven by a democratic spirit, went to the polls to demonstrate their political preferences,” Coldwell said. “The only problem with this election is having had a proven and repeatedly bad loser.”

After losing the 2006 race to President Felipe Calderon by less than a percentage point, Lopez Obrador’s supporters occupied Mexico City’s central plaza and main business avenue for weeks with encampments. Lopez Obrador said Calderon’s victory was the result of fraud.

Movement

This time, Lopez Obrador, who is from the Democratic Revolution Party, said he’ll start a peaceful “movement to defend democracy.” He did not specify what actions the movement would take.

The electoral tribunal, which has final authority over voting results, has until Sept. 6 to decide on the case and announce the next president, who would assume office Dec. 1.

Lopez Obrador’s challenge is unlikely to change the results of the vote, although it probably will slow legislation Pena Nieto has pledged to promote even before taking office, said Carlos Ramirez, an analyst with Eurasia Group, a Washington- based policy research organization.

“It will increase the political cost the victorious Institutional Revolutionary Party will face in proposing reforms early in the new political cycle,” Ramirez said in a research note July 11. The challenge “will immediately test Pena Nieto’s real commitment to reforms,” he said.

To contact the reporters on this story: Eric Martin in Mexico City at emartin21@bloomberg.net; Nacha Cattan in Mexico City at ncattan@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Joshua Goodman at jgoodman19@bloomberg.net

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