MICHELE NORRIS, host:
Official results in Mexico's presidential vote are due today. And with nearly all the votes counted, 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 for a protest rally on Saturday. NPR's Lourdes Garcia-Navarro reports.
LOURDES GARCIA-NAVARRO reporting:
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.
FELIPE CALDERON:(Mexico Presidential Candidate)(Through Translation): From today Mexico must unite in a new era of peace. A new era of reconciliation, if this is confirmed, all you Mexicans will be my bosses.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: But later this morning across town Lopez Obrador responded to what seemed his certain defeat by saying, he would use all legal options to contest the result, by going to supreme court-style tribunal.
ANDRES MANUEL LOPEZ OBRADOR (Mexico Presidential Candidate)(Through Translation): We will take this to the Tribunal with the demand that all the votes be counted, because we cannot accept these results. There are many irregularities.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: Lopez Obrador is demanding a recount of every ballot cast. The head of IFE or the Electoral Institute that oversaw the vote, says that he cannot order a full recount under the law. But, says Mexican political analyst, Denise Dresser.
Ms. DENISE DRESSER (Mexican Political Analyst): The Federal Tribunal can do basically whatever it wants. The Federal Electoral Institute didn't have the capacity to call for a recount. But the ball is out of their court now, it goes to the tribunal, which in Mexico, was set up precisely to be the final voice in cases of contested elections.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: Lopez Obrador says that there was a flat out fraud. Some International analyst say, there have been enough documented incidents of discrepancies to raise serious questions about the vote. Crucially, IFE, or the Electoral Institute has had it's impartiality questioned. It had been a beacon after years of rigged elections here, but when it released its preliminary figures on Sunday Night, it failed to include millions of votes.
It build those initial results as accounting for 98 percent of the vote. But really only 86 percent were taken into consideration. Mark Wisebot is from the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington D.C.
Mr. MARK WISEBOT (Center for Economic and Policy Research, Washington D.C.): There is a lot of false impression to be created at the time, where everyone believed that 98.5 percent of the ballots had been counted and allowed Calderon to claim victory.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: Once the legal challenges are presented, and it seems they will be, Mexico's Election tribunal will have until September 6th to declare a winner. The new President will take office on December 1st.
Lourdes Garcia-Navarro, NPR News, Mexico City.
NORRIS: And official results in Mexico's election were just announced, Felipe Calderon has won, by just six tenths of a percent.
SIEGEL: There is more on the Mexican election at our website. You're listening to ALL THINGS CONSIDERED, from NPR News.