Calderon Claims Slim Victory in Divisive Election

Felipe Calderon of the National Action Party (PAN) addresses his supporters Thursday. i i

Felipe Calderon of the National Action Party (PAN) delivering what amounted to an acceptance speech to his supporters Thursday. Susana Gonzalez/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

itoggle caption Susana Gonzalez/AFP/Getty Images
Felipe Calderon of the National Action Party (PAN) addresses his supporters Thursday.

Felipe Calderon of the National Action Party (PAN) addresses his supporters as his wife, Margarita Zavala, right, and Josefina Vazquez Mota, left, look on.

Susana Gonzalez/AFP/Getty Images

With nearly all the votes counted in Mexico's presidential vote, conservative candidate Felipe Calderon has a thin, but insurmountable lead. Calderon has declared victory. His rival, leftist Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, is contesting the results and has called a protest rally for Saturday.

The election has polarized the Mexican public like no other before it.

When it became clear at dawn that Felipe Calderon had overtaken Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador in the official count, the conservative candidate all but declared himself the winner in a press conference at his party headquarters. He gave what appeared to be an acceptence speech.

"From today, Mexico must unite in a new era of peace," he said. "A new era of reconciliation. If [the result] is confirmed, all you Mexicans will be my bosses."

But later Thursday morning, Lopez Obrador responded to what seemed his certain defeat by saying that he would use all legal options to contest the result by going to a Supreme Court-style tribunal.

"We will take this to the tribunal with the demand that all the votes be counted," Lopez Obrador said. "Because we can't accept these results. There are many irregularities."

Lopez Obrador is demanding a recount of every ballot cast. The process that began Wednesday only allowed for individual votes to be physically checked in boxes where there was some inconsistency.

Once the legal challenges are presented, Mexico's election tribunal will have until Sept. 6 to declare a winner. The new president will take office December 1.

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