Sunday, July 09, 2006

What's In A Crowd Count?

Thousands of supporters of Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, presidential candidate for the Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD), attend a rally to protest against the result of last weekend's election in Mexico City's Zocalo square July 8, 2006. Image Credit: REUTERS/Daniel Aguilar (MEXICO)

Depending on who one listens to, the size of the crowd of supporters for Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador that had gathered in Mexico City's "Plaza de la ConstituciĆ³n" (Constitution Square) to protest the results of last weekend's election was estimated to be anywhere from 100,000 to 400,000.

Correct me if I am wrong, but didn't the protests held May 1st, on immigration reform in downtown Los Angeles draw upwards to 1,000,000 people? Further reports on the "day without immigrants protest" had Chicago with 300,000 plus.

Funny, I guess that even given that the vote was close ... it wasn't important enough to show up and protest the vote count.

Excerpts from AP via Yahoo! News -

Mexican tells crowd he'll seek recount
By MARK STEVENSON, Associated Press Writer - 49 minutes ago

MEXICO CITY - Leftist presidential candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador called on a huge crowd of supporters Saturday to keep peacefully protesting as he goes to court to challenge what he called his fraudulent electoral defeat.

The fiery former Mexico City mayor said he would present fraud allegations to Mexico's electoral court on Sunday and formally request that all 41 million votes be recounted.

The ruling party's Felipe Calderon can't be declared president-elect until the electoral court weighs allegations of fraud or unfair campaign practices. The court has until Sept. 6 to declare a winner.

Election monitors from the European Union said they found no irregularities in the count. Calderon says the vote was clean and has taken congratulatory phone calls from President Bush and the leaders of Canada, Spain and Colombia, among others, despite Lopez Obrador's plea for foreign governments to hold off on recognizing the result.

Lopez Obrador called for nationwide marches beginning Wednesday and converging on Mexico City for a July 16 rally.

He provoked groans of disappointment when he told the crowd of more than 100,000 packing Mexico City's central plaza not to block highways during the marches.

The likelihood of continuing demonstrations suggests how difficult it will be for Calderon to unify Mexicans, many of whom believe the nation has yet to overcome the decades of institutional corruption and fraud that kept its leaders in power.

Lopez Obrador has repeatedly evaded questions about whether he would accept court decisions that go against him.

Lopez Obrador took direct aim at President Vicente Fox, accusing him of conspiring with Mexico's autonomous elections agency, known as IFE, to engineer a Calderon victory.

Election officials say Calderon, of Fox's National Action Party, beat Lopez Obrador by less than 244,000 votes out of 41 million ballots — or a margin of about 0.6 percent.

Lopez Obrador has millions of devoted followers who believe only he can help Mexico's poor and downtrodden. Most of his supporters come from Mexico City and poor southern states, while Calderon's strength is in Mexico's industrialized north.

Lopez Obrador claims a manual recount would confirm that hundreds of thousands of votes for him remain uncounted, miscounted or voided. The law allows such a recount only for specific polling places where credible evidence of irregularities exist. The leftist's supporters say that applies to at least 50,000 of the approximately 130,000 polling places.

The crowd in Mexico City's famed Zocalo plaza would accept nothing less than victory.

Many traveled all night to arrive at the Zocalo, joining a sea of yellow, the color of Lopez Obrador's Democratic Revolution Party.

"We are ready to do whatever is necessary," said Belisario Cruz, 32, a farmer from Tabasco. "We are tired of the rich having everything and the poor having nothing."

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