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In Mexico, President Lopez Obrador continues his mandate after a referendum with very low turnout

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (center) at one of Mexico City's polling stations, April 10, 2022.

The Mexicans had to answer the following question on Sunday, April 10: “Do you agree to revoke the president’s mandate for loss of confidence, or have him stay until the end of his term as president of the republic? †

At the end of this referendum that he himself launched and with a very low turnout, President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO) will remain in power. In all, more than 90% of voters wanted the nationalist left-wing leader, 68, to continue through the end of his only six-year term in 2024, according to early estimates from the National Electoral Institute (INE). The INE announced a turnout of between 17% and 18.2% of the 93 million voters. The law provides for a 40% threshold for the outcome of this type of referendum to bind the existing powers. In other words, even if the no had won, the president was not legally obliged to resign with a turnout well below 40%.

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Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador’s party, the Movement for National Regeneration (Morena), praised “a sharp result in favor of our chairman”“People have recognized his devotion to those who need it most, the immense moral authority with which he rules”said one of Morena’s leaders, Mario Delgado.

The specter of reelection

“Let no one forget that it is the people who command”, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said during the opening of some 57,000 polling stations in the country. The president had himself enshrined this in the Constitution in 2019 “withdrawal mandate”modeled on other Latin American countries such as Venezuela.

Three opposition parties (PAN on the right, PRD on the left and the former PRI state party) had called for abstention and rejected a populist exercise. The PAN led to a clear plebiscite “by illegality, lies and misappropriation of public funds”† The PRI accused Morena of turning the referendum into a “joke” for “Satisfy your own ego and continue to cheat Mexicans”according to one of his managers, on Twitter, Alejandro Moreno.

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Opponents suspect AMLO of wanting to rely on a plebiscite to consider reelection, a political taboo in Mexico since the “Porfiriato”: President Porfirio Diaz — a dictator to some historians — was in power for nearly thirty years, from 1884 to 1911, before his exile and his death in Paris.

Le Monde and AFP

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