A broad victory for AMLO would reaffirm popular support for his suite of Fourth Transformation policies and for him personally, and could be used to perpetuate AMLO’s political dominance over the Morena party and thus the selection of its presidential candidate. of 2024. It would also give AMLO ammunition to convince wavering opposition politicians that Morena will dominate Mexico’s political future and that they should switch allegiance before it’s too late.
The proof of the political importance of this vote is everywhere. It goes far beyond AMLO’s persistent populist rhetoric designed to blame “conservatives” for everything that has gone wrong in Mexico, including a weak economy and consistently high rates of violence and crime, allegations of wrongdoings on the part of his son and close political aides, and even the recent statement by the European Union expressing concern over the extremely high rate of murders of journalists in Mexico.
Beyond the rhetoric, AMLO’s push-to-vote campaign included his recent announcement of a 35% increase in bi-weekly payment to the elderly and his pledge to step down if he were to lose the April 10 vote, even if the total turnout must be less than the 40% of registered voters required for the result to be binding. Morena also used the traditional political tactic of handing out food and other essentials to voters while reminding them to vote for AMLO during the recall.
To circumvent the constitutional ban on recall campaigns by “public officials,” eleven Morena deputies in the Mexico City Legislative Assembly resigned from office to campaign for AMLO, showing that the results of recall are more important than the governing. Morena has also created a “People’s Communicators Network” to promote voting as “citizens”.
AMLO and Morena also flouted this constitutional prohibition. AMLO continued to announce his administration’s successes at his morning press conference and on social media, and he traveled to the outskirts of Mexico City to personally inaugurate one of his signature infrastructure projects, the new Felipe Angeles Airport. Even more striking was the appearance of massive billboards throughout Mexico City calling on AMLO supporters to vote on April 10. It’s still unclear who funded these ads, but it wasn’t INE.
In a bolder effort to circumvent constitutional limits on the government’s campaign for recall, the mid-March legislative decree, approved by Morena majorities in both houses of Congress despite strong opposition, interpreting the constitutional ban on campaigning by “public officials” as not applying to government officials.
The INE responded by demanding that the Mexico City billboards be removed and immediately dismissed Morena’s legislative maneuver as unconstitutional, a decision that was officially upheld by the Federal Electoral Tribunal (TFPJE). Nonetheless, the billboards remained, and Claudia Sheinbaum, Mexico City mayor and AMLO loyalist, said, “We can talk now,” doing so with most of her Morena colleagues.
This defiance of INE rules has been accompanied by strong criticism of INE itself, reflecting the second objective of the recall election – to discredit INE to reduce popular support for this central institutional pillar of democracy. mexican. This goal is key to undermining INE’s ability to obstruct AMLO’s goal of ensuring that Morena and the Fourth Transformation dominate politics in Mexico for decades to come, seemingly even if voters oppose the project at the polls.
Morena leaders accused INE of ‘sabotage’ the election by not promoting the referendum enough, planning to install an insufficient number of voting booths and enforcing the constitutional ban on AMLO and other officials that promote AMLO’s achievements and encourage voters to go to the polls. And they called for the resignation or dismissal of Lorenzo Cordova, the president of the Institute, and another member of the INE board for their alleged transgressions against democracy.
Cordova didn’t throw any punches in her response. He made clear the challenge to democracy these actions create: “Those who violate the rule are not just cheating. They also erode the foundations of democratic coexistence,” putting democracy at risk. AMLO retaliated by alleging that the INE is run by “reactionaries” who take orders from “conservatives” who are dedicated to blocking Mexico’s Fourth Transformation.
These events surrounding the recall election indicate that AMLO is unlikely to allow legal or constitutional requirements designed to protect democratic practices to stand in the way of ensuring Morena’s political dominance to ensure the long-term survival of the fourth processing in Mexico.