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Was it worth it?

13 April 2022

To absolutely no surprise, last Sunday’s referendum (consulta) had too low a turnout to be binding, and overwhelmingly showed support for AMLO finishing his presidential term. The major foreign media reports (AP and Reuters) make the same points, mostly that it was a sort of futile “ego trip”, costing a lot of money, and proving nothing.
Or.. did it?

Neither source, expect in its closing paragraphs, notes that the normal federal funding for elections was stinted… but neither notes that this was largely by design, the INE (Elections Institute) — controlled at present by representatives of the opposition parties (despite being, allegedly, a non-partisan independent body) — found rationale after rationale for underfunding the referenda. Underfunding to the point that only a third of the normal polling places were functioning, and several were changed from their usual sites to more obscure and hard to locate “alternative locales”.

Nor… as the pro-AMLO forces have maintained, that the INE, controlling its own budget, has been fighting to preserve the salaries of its commissioners (presently receiving more than the presidential salary) by claiming that, as an independent body, they cannot be subject to normal civil service rules.

NOR, do AP or Reuters not that the united opposition openly encouraged votes to stay away from the ballot box, being the “some say” of the articles who questioned the value of the exercise.

Though, of course, being underfunded, receiving messages that they shouldn’t bother to vote, and a good number of people understanding that AMLO … enjoying a 60% or more approval rating in every poll… was in no danger of being forced to resign.

SO… was there a point? Perhaps. As argued before, there is some value in bringing to light issues in presidential succession due to death or resignation (should it ever become necessary). It also shows up the “issues” with the INE, and the need for reform in the elector system.

It’s hard to say, though, that the “bragging rights” on the left (crowing that 90% of 20% of the electorate supports the president doesn’t really translate into an assumption that 90% of the population will support every initiative put forward by the administration), but it does show there is strong support for the president by those willing to turn out to vote … and that holding referendums — letting the people express their approval or disapproval of government initiatives — is a real possibility, and that there are legitimate alternative means to change or retain an administration without resort to the usual violent means so common to Latin America.

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