By THÉRÈSE MARGOLIS
Only 16 to 17 million Mexicans — about 17 to 18 percent of eligible voters — participated in President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s (AMLO) much-touted revocation of mandate referendum on Sunday, April 10, according to the National Electoral Institute’s (INE) preliminary figures, representing less than half the required turnout required for the referendum to be binding.
And while roughly 90 percent of the Mexicans who did participate voted in favor of López Obrador finishing his six-year term, the presidential recall referendum proved to be a major political bust for AMLO, not only because of the small turnout, but also due to a series of allegations of blatant campaigning violations raised by the INE against the president’s own leftist National Regeneration Movement (Morena) party prior to and even during the voting process.
Lopez Obrador had practically no chance of losing given the opposition’s mass boycott of the vote.
Based on INE preliminary data released late Sunday night, roughly 90.3 to 91.9 percent of participating voters cast their ballots in favor of the president’s continued service, 6.4 to 7.8 percent voted for him to leave his post immediately, and between 1.6 and 2.1 percent of the ballots were nullified for one reason or another.
“There was practically no participation and mostly older adults came to vote,” one poll official in the upscale Miguel Hidalgo municipality said.
In all, a total of 57,348 polling stations were set up with 92.8 million adult Mexicans eligible to vote, and most reported very low turnouts.
On the upside, despite concerns that the referendum could lead to violence, there were only minor conflicts that arose during the polling process and no real acts of aggression, according to INE President Lorenzo Córdova.
However, Morena President Mario Delgado was found to be physically driving voters to and from the polls in strict violation of INE rules.
By the same token, the referendum proved to be a moot plebiscite since it needed the participation of at least 40 percent of eligible voters (roughly 37 million Mexicans) in order to be binding.
The referendum was supervised and paid for by the INE to the tune of nearly 1.7 billion pesos in what many critics deemed as nothing more than a very expensive ego boost for a president toying with the idea of extending his mandate beyond the six years permitted under the Mexican Constitution.