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Mexican vote in limbo

Both presidential candidates claim victory in Sunday's vote. A recount begins Wednesday.

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Three days after the polls closed, Mexico is in political limbo – with the presidential vote still too close to call, and the two top candidates claiming victory.

The standoff, reminiscent of the Bush-Gore election aftermath in 2000, raises the prospect of protests and court challenges that could take weeks to resolve. It could also further polarize a divided electorate after months of negative campaigning.

With returns from more than 98 percent of polling stations in at press time, conservative candidate Felipe Calderón had a 1-percentage-point lead over left-leaning Andrés Manuel López Obrador, who has called for a recount to find what he believes are millions of missing votes.

Preliminary official results are expected Wednesday – at which point a recount is set to begin. By law, this process will go on day and night until a final result is reached.

Mr. Obrador would have to see a dramatic swing in the remaining polling stations, or a vast discrepancy in the recount to catch up – but still, Luis Carlos Ugalde, President of the Federal Electoral Institute (IFE), has refused to call the election, warning that the race is still too close.

This has not, however, stopped the candidates themselves from calling it.

"According to our statistics, we have won the presidency," Obrador roared Sunday night. "The triumph is irreversible."

Just over half an hour later, Mr. Calderón of the ruling National Action Party (PAN) announced that "there is no doubt we have won."

On Monday, as Calderón's margin began to widen slightly, Obrador said some 3 million votes may have been lost and that his Democratic Revolution Party (PRD) would use every legal means to challenge irregularities, vote manipulation, and fraud.

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