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“Dark Victory”… the consulta

2 August 2021

Sunday’s “consulta”… even with its confused wording that only opened the POSSIBILITY of maybe, possibly, digging into the darker secrets of the past 30 years…. passed overwhelmingly (by close to 95%) but… as mentioned yesterday, the turnout was dismally low, 7% of the electorate, when at least a 40% turnout was required for the consulta to be bindig on the legislature.

That was by design, writes Jornada’s Enrique Galván Ochoa. Under legislation passed during the Peña Nieto administration (and Peña Nieto being one of the primary targets of this consulta), to even send a question to the voters requires either support of the President and a third of Congress, or a petition signed by two percent of registered voters (which, in Mexico, is basically every citizen over 18)… meaning gathering signatures from around two millio people. And, even then, the actual mechanics of the consulta are in the hands of the (politically appointed) Elections Commission, which sets the rules for the consulta, which has be voted on by at least 40% of those voters.

And.. just to confuse things futher, the wording of the consulta had to be parsed by the Surpreme Court.

And, obviously, while passing, the threshhold for turning the proposal into reality was nowhere near being met. Who was responsible, and who benefits?

If you ask AMLO, or his backers, the answer is the Elections Commission (INE, for its initials in Spanish). INE complained they didn’t have the money for a “get out the vote” campaign (although they had plenty to pay their own salaries) and there are legitimate questions about how the mechanics of voting were handled. There were limited polling sites, sites were changed without warning, and locations were badly defined (the corner of X and Y street), even if one had the resources to navigate the confusing website set up to “assist” would be voters. (Jornada). Ironically, the President himself could not vote, being on the road Sunday, and no arrangements having been made (as they are in normal elections) for either absentee voters, or for voters unable to visit their assigned polling stations.

But, as Denise Dresser argued in Americas Quarterly last Wednesday, a botched cosulta played into AMLO’s hands… freeing him from having to dig too deeply into the sins of his predecesors, or those of his allegedly favored military supports. Dresser is well-known to loathe the present administration, and her spin stikes Mexfiles as nonsensical. Still, it’s worth noting that no one really expected the consulta would reach that 40% threshhold, despite optimistic statements by its supporters.

Which may not matter. Although Vicente Fox and the 2018 PAN candidate Ricardo Anaya both crowed that the consulta just proved there was no real support for questioning the politics of the past, a claim echoed by the three (formerly) “mainstream” parties (PRI, PAN, PRD), along with Francisco Manetto in El País, and Viri Reos in the Spanish-language edition of the New York Times. Both Manetto and Reos go further, arguing the consulta was a referendum … not on the politics and politicians of the past… but on the present government, and on AMLO’s own tenure. In essence, the two argue that by abstaining, the 93 percent of voters who did not turn out were rejecting the very notion of the people being asked to make decisions that the legislature could make for them. In other words, the people were supposedly voting (or rathat un-voting) against popular sovereignty.

STILL… given the overwhelming support the “focus group” gave to the concept of investigating the past, there is every reason to assume the ruling Morena party will go ahead in some form. Perhaps not in a formal judicial hearing, but “truth commissions”, Senate hearings, and investigations of the Fiscal General (who, in theory, is independent of the Executive) are not out of the question.

And, AMLO and his supporters have more ammunition than ever to push for changes in INE.

One Comment leave one →
  1. 3 August 2021 8:51 am

    Rich, many thanks for your insights into Mexican politics. I’ve been watching these SOB’s for over 50 years and sometimes I miss things that are covered up. Anyway even though many didnt vote those who did made their voice heard (vox populi), something I’ve never seen before, neither in the glorious democracy of the USA, I know the critics will say: But you can vote for a “Representative” there, Yeah right (I say with sarcasm).
    I’m your fan, keep up the good work,,,,Viva AMLO !!

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