In Mexico, the Federal Electoral Institute has declared the results of the presidential election too close to call and has called for a detailed vote count to begin Wednesday. However the two candidates have declared victory and are on a collision course that could threaten the nation's stability.
As was anticipated by recent polls, the presidential candidates of the ruling National Action Party, or PAN, and the left-leaning Party of the Democratic Revolution, or PRD, ran so close together that neither the Mexican news media nor the election institute could declare a winner. Institute President Luis Carlos Ugalde spoke to the nation at 11 p.m., to declare an impasse.
He said the technical committee that ran the quick count survey for the institute was unable to determine a winner, based on preliminary results and that - following procedures outlined by Mexico's election law - the institute would initiate a final count of all votes, Wednesday.
Ugalde called on all political parties and candidates to respect the process and refrain from any statements until the final results could be announced. Moments later, Mexican President Vicente Fox took to the airwaves to say much the same thing, calling for calm, patience and respect for the electoral process.
Nonetheless, minutes later, PRD candidate Manuel Lopez Obrador came before supporters to declare himself the victor.
He said he respected the electoral institute and recalled that he had pledged to respect the result of this election. Nevertheless, he said his own exit polls showed that he had won. He called on others to
respect this result and he said he would begin immediately to build a platform for a government of national reconciliation that would include all sectors of society.
Minutes later, PAN candidate Felipe Calderon came before supporters with a similar announcement. He said several exit polls and the institute's own preliminary results showed that he had been ahead from the beginning and had won by at least two percentage points. He called for national reconciliation, saying it was now time to put aside differences.
But political analysts expressed the fear that the candidates declarations would set the stage for a nasty fight that could have been avoided if both had refrained from making statements until the vote count was completed.