- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 7, 2006

The decision Tuesday from Mexico’s Federal Electoral Tribunal declaring Felipe Calderon winner of the Mexican presidential election is undoubtedly the right one. The July 2 election was monitored by Mexican and international observers and, criticisms from leftist candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador and his followers notwithstanding, the independent Federal Electoral Institute and its nearly 1 million volunteers performed well. Behind Mr. Lopez Obrador’s post-election bombast lay little in the way of substantive challenges, the court declared. The tribunal’s unanimous decision is final, but Mr. Lopez Obrador has shown little interest in the legal process for contesting the results. On the street, the populist refused to recognize the new president-elect.

Extinguished is the pre-election hope that Mexico’s rancorous leftist would accept his defeat tactfully. Mr. Lopez Obrador has announced plans for a Sept. 16 rally to declare himself the true president in Mexico and denounce Mr. Calderon and, presumably, the administration of President Vicente Fox. Through his disruptive protests in Mexico City and his radical rhetoric — even before the tribunal’s final decision, he told the Financial Times that “Mexico needs a revolution” — a clearer picture has emerged of Mr. Lopez Obrador as a man intent on assuming power.

Mr. Lopez Obrador’s claims of fighting for Mexican democracy against nefarious forces of corruption have been proved disingenuous, and his post-election actions have been anathema to democracy. A tactful response from him would have reflected the electoral success his party achieved, including a strong showing in congressional elections and winning the powerful office of mayor of Mexico City. But he continues his move with calls for a revolution and an “alternate government.”

Mr. Calderon should resist tactics that would force the government to move to the left and embrace large-scale government welfare projects. Indeed, the challenges now facing Mr. Calderon and Mr. Fox, whose term ends in December, have been compounded by Mr. Lopez Obrador’s divisive politics. Mr. Calderon does not have a sweeping political mandate, but his support has increased notably in opinion polls since the election.

At the center of the president-elect’s agenda needs to be sound economic policy, and he will need to work with his opponent’s party to address poverty, crime and other issues. But the president-elect must not adopt his opponent’s leftist policies outright.

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