July 17, 2006 11:30 AM
The election was stolen. It’s not in doubt. Colin Powell admits it. The National Democratic Institute and the International Republican Institute both admit it. Senator Richard Lugar of Indiana – a Republican – was emphatic: there had been “a concerted and forceful program of election-day fraud and abuse”; he “had heard” of employers telling their workers how to vote; yet he had also seen the fire of the resisting young, “not prepared to be intimidated”.
In Washington, Zbigniew Brzezinski has demanded that the results be set aside and a new vote taken, under the eye – no less – of the United Nations. In The New York Times, Steven Lee Myers decried “the use of government resources on behalf of loyal candidates and the state’s control over the media” – factors, he said, were akin to practices in “Putin’s Russia”.
I wrote those words two years ago, for Salon. They referred, of course, to the election in the Ukraine, where the presidential candidate favoured by the powerful neighbouring state (Russia) had claimed a tainted victory in a tight race. The thunder from America, citadel of democracy, was overwhelming. Nothing mattered more than to see the vote annulled, a new election held. The subsequent installation of Viktor Yuschenko as President of Ukraine was widely celebrated as a great triumph for democracy.
But that, of course, was in another country. Two weeks have now passed since the presidential vote in Mexico, pitting AndrÃ©s Manuel LÃ³pez Obrador of the party for a Democratic Revolution (PRD) against Felipe CalderÃ³n of the ruling National Action party (PAN). The candidate who trailed, LÃ³pez Obrador, has explicitly charged that the count was cooked. He has challenged the result in court. No final resolution is due before September.