A partial recount
of the votes in Mexico’s presidential election is under way following a
decision by the electoral court on Saturday. The election last month
was apparently won by centre-right candidate Felipe Calderon with just 50.4% of the two-party vote, or a margin of about 244,000 votes.

of his rival, leftist Manuel Lopez Obrador, have been staging mass
demonstrations, alleging electoral fraud and demanding a complete
recount. The court ruled that there was sufficient doubt about the
result to order a recount in 11,839 polling stations, or 9% of the total.

Obrador is not satisfied, and has urged further civil disobedience – on
Tuesday, his followers commandeered toll booths on Mexico City’s
motorways and allowed motorists to travel free. But the court’s
decision actually represents a substantial win for him.

recounting 9% of the booths fails to turn up any irregularities, that
will be a pretty good sign that there are none there to be found. That
need not mean the election was entirely fair – there are plenty of ways
to rig an election that a recount won’t reveal, because the trickery
happens before ballot papers get into the boxes. But 244,000 is a lot
of ballot papers, and it’s not credible to think that there are enough
extra votes to elect Lopez Obrador, but they all happen to be
concentrated in the other 91% of the booths.

If the partial
recount finds serious discrepancies, then it’ll be open to the court to
order further recounting – the deadline to certify the results is not
until 6 September. But if the recount tallies with the initial results,
it will be up to Lopez Obrador to concede defeat and call off his
supporters. Otherwise, free motorway travel won’t be enough to stop him
looking like a sore loser.