Mexican president Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) won the country’s first ever recall referendum held on Sunday, April 10, with an overwhelming majority. Nine out of 10 Mexicans who voted on Sunday backed president AMLO to stay in office and finish his six-year term which ends in September 2024.
According to the results issued by the National Electoral Institute (INE), with 99.9% of the votes counted, 91.8% of the voters supported the president’s continuation in office while 6.4% supported the revocation of his mandate. Invalid votes constituted 1.6% of the total votes.
According to the INE, the turnout was 17.7% of the eligible voters, well below the 40% threshold required for the popular vote to be binding. President AMLO, who himself called for the recall referendum, had assured that in the case that the majority voted against him, he would resign from office even if the threshold was not reached. President AMLO argued that the plebiscite was vital to validate his democratic mandate. During his election campaign, AMLO had vowed to strengthen participatory democracy and had promised to give voters a chance to remove him from office in the second half of his term.
In a video message broadcasted on his social networks on Sunday night, AMLO thanked the people of Mexico and vowed to continue working for them. “Because more than 90% voted for me to finish my term. More than 15 million Mexicans are happy and want me to continue my term until September 2024. I am staying and we are going to continue with the transformation of our country,” he said, adding “love has been repaid with love. I am never going to betray the people of Mexico.”
— Andrés Manuel (@lopezobrador_) April 11, 2022
During his daily morning conference from the National Palace today, AMLO described the recall referendum as “a complete success” and “a historic event”. “Yesterday was a special day. It was a complete success. The people acted with great responsibility. There were millions of Mexicans who voted. We are witnessing a historic event. It is something unprecedented. For the first time citizens are consulted so that they can decide on the rule of the president,” celebrated the head of state.
At the same time, the president criticized the INE for “boycotting” the process. “It must be taken into account that not all the booths were installed, only a third of them were installed. I say this because our opponents say that we did not get even half of the votes we got in 2018. Yes, we didn’t, with a third of the poll stations and with all the traps or boycotts of the INE. The attitude of the INE is very unfortunate,” said AMLO. For the recall referendum, around 57,000 polling stations were set up, which was significantly less compared to the over 160,000 set up for the 2021 elections.
Nevertheless, the president once again thanked the over 15.6 million citizens who voted for him. He compared the number of votes he received yesterday with the 14.8 million he obtained in the 2006 presidential elections against Felipe Calderón, and recognized that many people participated in the election.
Opinion polls had predicted AMLO’s permanence in office. Despite the criticism from the opposition over his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, their rejection of his energy reform and the drug war, AMLO maintains an impressive popularity rate of 54%, according to a recent survey by El Financiero.
Broad sectors of the Mexican working class support AMLO’s social policies such as affordable higher education, soft loans, decent pensions, no increase in fuel prices, among others. Social sectors also support the progressive position of the ruling center-left National Regeneration Movement (MORENA) party on reproductive rights, LGBTQ rights, taxes on big corporations, and the country’s foreign policies.