AMLO Wins Mexico’s First Mandate Recall
Mexico's first presidential recall was held on Sunday, April 10. After a turbulent electoral process, President López Obrador managed to win the recall, as more than 90 percent of the vote leaned in favor of his term’s fulfillment. Because citizen participation below 40 percent, the election’s result will not be binding, though many still see the result as a win for the president.
On the night of April 10, electoral authority INE published the recall’s preliminary results. The data showed that between 17 and 18.2 percent of the electoral roll participated. Between 6.6 and 7.8 percent had voted to recall the president, whereas between 90.3 and 91.9 percent had voted for the fulfillment of his term. On Monday, April 11, INE published the definite results. In total, 16.5 million Mexicans, equivalent to 17.8 percent of the electoral roll, participated in the exercise. Of these, 91.9 percent voted to maintain confidence in the president, while 6.4 percent voted to revoke his mandate.
The total nominal list is composed of 92.8 million Mexicans. For the electoral exercise to be binding, the participation of 40 percent of the electoral roll, or 37.1 million votes, was required. Because this number was not reached, the recall election was declared not binding.
This is the second time the López Obrador’s administration enables a direct democracy process. In Aug. 2021, a consultation was held to decide on the prosecution of former presidents. This exercise summoned only 6.6 million voters, equivalent to 7.1 percent of the electoral roll.
For this Sunday’s vote citizen participation varied depending on the country’s region. The highest turnout occurred in the southeast part of the country. Tabasco, Chiapas, Campeche, Veracruz and Tlaxcala had the highest participation, with up to 27.8 percent of the nominal list. In Mexico City, 1.5 million voters participated in the consultation, representing a turnout of 19.7 percent. However, both the Bajio and the North of the country saw much less electoral participation. Jalisco, Aguascalientes, Durango and Guanajuato had a turnout of less than 9.5 percent of their electoral roll.
During his morning conference, President López Obrador celebrated the recall results and highlighted that he obtained "more votes" than in 2006, but less than in 2018. According to the president, the vote's decrease is due to INE’s "boycott" of the process. Though the president lost some ground during last year’s midterm vote, his approval ratings continue to be strong.
Opposition parties argued that the recall consultation was a "failure" and an exercise to "satisfy his ego." They called on the citizens not to participate in the recall to mitigate its legitimacy, as the initiative was promoted by the government and not by the citizens.
From the beginning, the mandate recall was shrouded in controversy, as ruling party MORENA used public resources to promote the vote. Due to the political interest in ratifying the president's mandate, some allege that federal and local authorities engaged in inappropriate behavior to promote the vote during the electoral period. Ciro Murayama, Counselor, INE, stated that "we are living a recall process where the constitutional rules of governmental non-intervention have been systematically violated."
Acts of undue promotion and party-backed transportation of citizens to the polling stations are among the irregularities denounced on recall day. Before voting day, it was also reported that social programs beneficiaries, especially senior citizens, were threatened with the discontinuation of their welfare delivery if they did not participate in the recall. During the recall process, INE received 172 complaints about alleged violations of various legal provisions, committed mainly by federal and local public officials. INE granted 25 precautionary measures ordering the withdrawal of advertising and messages in physical spaces and digital media.
Likewise, MORENA approved changes to the electoral law to allow public officials to promote the mandate recall. The government's behavior has been one of the main sources of the first recall discredit. Nevertheless, despite the low turnout, the electoral result is considered a triumph for the president, as he managed to mobilize more than 15 million people.
Due to the irregularities, INE does not rule out invalidating the election. "Hopefully the irresponsibility of the political actors who systematically, repeatedly, maliciously, openly and shamelessly are violating the law, will not bring as an eventual consequence the decision of the Superior Chamber of the Electoral Tribunal to annul the recall," commented Lorenzo Córdova, President Counselor, INE.