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Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s (AMLO) recall referendum is a dangerous novelty in the Mexican legal landscape. It is a capricious and demagogic exercise promoted by the president to erode the already fragile institutions in order to concentrate power in his hands, under the pretext of returning it to the people.
What is the “recall” election?
Theoretically, it is an exercise that would allow revoking the constitutional mandate of the president, provided that he loses the recall election and as long as more than 37.1 million people participate in it, equivalent to 40% of the electoral roll. If this happens, the Mexican Congress (which is controlled by López Obrador) would have 30 days to appoint a replacement. However, this recall is flawed in its origin, because its main promoter is the president himself.
Why does AMLO want the “recall”?
It is a very useful tool for the strategy of Obrador and his operators. They designed it, they gathered the signatures, and they are the interested parties in making it happen. Here are the reasons:
- It will allow him to test his local operators, to find out who is capable of carrying more votes and, therefore, who will have to be given more support in the 2024 federal elections.
- It allows Obrador to consolidate before his followers the narrative that he is a poor victim persecuted by the hatred of the “conservatives” who want to remove him from the presidency and destroy his “transformation.”
- It allows him to erode in public opinion the paradigm that the permanence of rulers must be defined in elections. It seeks to reduce that process to a mere category of “recall” that is much easier to manipulate.
- It allows him to build the myth of a great triumph, so that the people “ratify” him, laying the foundations of a narrative that he can then take advantage of it to stay in office, disguising reelection as “ratification.”
- It allows him to compete with full economic advantage. This year, the opponents do not have the extra resources that INE provides for campaigns; on the contrary, AMLO and his regime do have at their disposal the multi-million budgets of the federation and most of the state governments, to attract voters.
- It allows him to take advantage of his evident popularity (more than 60.8% of support according to recent polls) and the also evident disorientation of the opposition, to crush it and consolidate in the eyes of the people the idea that the regime is invincible.
And, most seriously, the recall is one more step in the Obradorist project to destroy the institutions and replace them with a supposed “popular will” which, in reality, is simply a holacracy, where the government will always have all the advantages. That is why AMLO has also already announced his proposal to have the electoral authorities elected by popular vote.
Furthermore, it is politically impossible for Obrador to lose the referendum, and even in that unlikely scenario, the pro-Obrador majority in the Chamber of Deputies would have in their hands the decision of the new president. They can choose whoever they want, starting with López Obrador himself! Would it be legally absurd? Yes, but it has become more than clear that the obradoristas do not care about the law.
AMLO’s consultation is a trap
Yes, with all its letters. It is a trap because it is designed to cause a triumph for López Obrador and it would also set a precedent to turn the recall into a sword of Damocles over the heads of all future governments, encouraging them to make short-term populist decisions, as long as they are not removed.
It is a trap because the obradorismo has much more money to advertise and carry votes than the opponents since the result is known in advance. It is a perversion of democracy, turned into an assembly applause meter, similar to so many other dictators who despise institutions and wrap themselves in the guise of the people, to betray the people and crown their own power.
It is a trap because the regime is using the recall as a pretext to further weaken the border between the army, the party and the federal government. This was evidenced on April 2 and 3, with the participation of the Secretary of the Interior and the head of the National Guard in Morena’s propaganda events.
It is a trap by President AMLO, who knows beforehand that he has the numbers to win the consultation and use it as a new reflection of the power of his movement, wasting along the way at least $1,692 million pesos budgeted to print 94.6 million ballots; install more than 57 thousand polling stations, and organize hundreds of thousands of officials. In addition to other hundreds of millions of unknown origin that the obradorismo has used to promote participation.
All this, in exchange for the president patting himself on the back. So perverse, absurd and dictatorial.
Gerardo Garibay Camarena, is a doctor of law, writer and political analyst with experience in the public and private sectors. His new book is "How to Play Chess Without Craps: A Guide to Reading Politics and Understanding Politicians" // Gerardo Garibay Camarena es doctor en derecho, escritor y analista político con experiencia en el sector público y privado. Su nuevo libro es “Cómo jugar al ajedrez Sin dados: Una guía para leer la política y entender a los políticos”