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Professor: Mexicans 'tired of politics'

Calderon faces economic test, Latin American specialist says
A voter casts his ballot in Mexico City during the presidential election.



Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador

MEXICO CITY, Mexico (CNN) -- Conservative Felipe Calderon won by a narrow margin Thursday in Mexico's presidential election, but leftist rival Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador claimed there were irregularities and vowed to fight the results in court.

CNN anchor Kitty Pilgrim discussed the election results with George Grayson, a professor of Latin American politics at the College of William & Mary in Virginia.

PILGRIM: Lopez Obrador says he won't accept the results. They have until September 6, I believe, to ... rule on this?

GRAYSON: Well, after the Federal Electoral Institute that organizes the election and gives a preliminary count finishes its work, as it did today, there are four days, not including the weekend, for the loser to pose any challenges to the results.

And so the middle of next week, that process will begin. It could go on until [September 6], but it certainly won't because of the impact, the uncertainty, it would have on economic markets. I think it's fair to say that Felipe Calderon is the president-elect of Mexico.

PILGRIM: Lopez Obrador is calling on his supporters to rally on Saturday. What do you predict might happen? He has a history of protesting elections, does he not?

GRAYSON: Oh, yes. He's turned mass marches from an art form into an exact science. But on Saturday he's only called for his supporters to gather in Mexico's huge central square, the Zocalo. And he's going to read out one by one the number of irregularities that he and his staff have found during the campaign.

But I can tell you that, I think, Kitty, that the people are sick and tired of politics here. They used to think that the longest day of the year was first day of summer. Now they're sure it was July 2, which seems to go on and on and on because July 2 was the date when the election took place.

PILGRIM: Calderon ... has said recently [to The Associated Press], "I want to establish a very constructive relationship without bowing my head or lowering my eyes to the Americans." Doesn't sound very conciliatory.

GRAYSON: Oh, well, in Mexican presidential elections you have to play the nationalistic card, just as in U.S. presidential elections you try to make nice with Mexico. That's the rhetoric that we hear after every presidential campaign here.

PILGRIM: He has met with President Bush several times. What movement might we see on such sticky issues as immigration and border security?

GRAYSON: Well, it behooves both countries to emphasize border security. On immigration, I think that the House Republicans are going to oppose any kind of reform except one that tightens up immigration laws.

The real imperative for the Calderon administration is not to fall into the act of calling themselves victims of the world economy but starting to break the bottlenecks in their own economy that impedes competition, efficiency and quality products.

Otherwise the Chinese, who are already eating their lunch, are going to start eating their breakfast and dinner, too.

PILGRIM: You bring out a great point. The Mexican economy has been damaged by global trade. How do you see Calderon fixing this? ... Do you see anything in his platform that suggests a remedy?

GRAYSON: Well, I would disagree that it's been hurt by global trade. The problem is that with NAFTA [the North American Free Trade Agreement], the Mexican economy opened up to the world. But internally you still have monopolies and oligopolies and conglomerates, whether it's in electricity, oil, cement, telephones, telecommunications.

And so it is up to Mexico to do some trust busting so it can be more competitive. Otherwise, unless it swims, it's going to sink.

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