Conservative ruling party candidate Felipe Calderon won Mexico's ferociously contested July 2 election and is president-elect, the top electoral court said in a draft ruling yesterday.
Earlier in the day, the court said Calderon had won with a margin of about 234,000 votes. In this latest draft ruling, the court said he could now be declared president-elect, the first time the election body has made this announcement.
A panel of seven judges, who have already thrown out leftist candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador's claims of massive fraud, later endorsed the court draft. The decision is final and can not be appealed.
Mexico, which only introduced multi-party election with President Vicente Fox's victory at the last presidential election in 2000, has been gripped by political drama for months. Fox will leave office on December 1.
The election split the nation of over 100 million people along class lines, and leftist protests against alleged vote rigging have paralyzed the centre of Mexico City.
Calderon's victory will be a boost to the United States as he will be a key ally in Latin America, where several left-wing leaders critical of Washington have taken power in recent years.
Lopez Obrador, a fiery speaker who promised to give priority to Mexico's millions of poor, says he will not accept former Energy Minister Calderon, 44, as president. The leftist former mayor of the capital has vowed to set up a parallel government.
But his supporters, who say the courts, electoral authorities, media and big business have formed a powerful bloc against them, are increasingly resigned to Calderon ruling for the next six years.
Leftists set off fireworks outside the court building in protest yesterday morning, and the explosions were clearly heard in the courtroom.
"The powerful control the authorities with their money," said Lopez Obrador follower Jesus Tomas, 70, in the central Zocalo square, occupied by leftist protesters for weeks.
Calderon plans to cut deals with centrist opposition parties to push pro-business tax, labour and energy reforms through Congress, where his National Action Party is the biggest party but is still way short of a majority.
Still, his first challenge could well be to stave off massive street protests and win over some of the 30 per cent or more of Mexicans who believe he stole the election.
Juan Camilo Mourino, who is leading Calderon's transition team, said the new government would make the fight against poverty a central theme in an attempt to win over the millions who voted for Lopez Obrador. "Without a doubt the next government of Mexico must have a clear social leaning," he said.
Just six years ago, many Mexicans were euphoric after Fox's historic election victory ended decades of one-party rule, but this year's vote reopened deep class divisions that have undermined Mexico's new political system.
Source: China Daily