On Sunday, Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador decisively won a divisive referendum on whether he should step down or finish his term, despite low attendance.

Lopez Obrador’s presidency had never been in jeopardy, with a popularity rating of nearly 60%, and the left-wing populist was one of the greatest supporters of the vote.

According to an official preliminary count, the 68-year-old president, who was elected in 2018 for a six-year term, received slightly more than 90% of the vote in favor of his continuation in office until 2024.

However, the turnout rate was projected to be around 18%, significantly below the 40% threshold required for the poll to be legally binding.

That means Lopez Obrador would not have been forced to resign even if he had lost.
Lopez Obrador said he will not exploit the election results to push for constitutional changes that would let him to run for another term, as some detractors have speculated.

“I intend to continue serving until the end of my tenure.” In a video message, he stated, “I’m not going any farther because I’m a democrat and I’m not in support of re-election.”

Supporters of the referendum, which is the first of its type in Mexico, said it would increase democratic accountability by allowing voters to remove the president if they lost trust in him.

“We now have the opportunity to correct what is wrong. Presidents have served other interests after being elected by the public, according to Benigno Gasca, a 57-year-old mathematician and musician.

However, others saw the referendum as costly propaganda and a needless diversion from the country’s many problems, including drug-related violence, poverty, and rising living costs.

“It’s a waste of money,” Laura Gonzalez, a 62-year-old retired teacher, said of the exercise.
Lopez Obrador’s “dedication to the most needy and the great moral power with which he leads,” according to Mario Delgado, leader of the ruling Morena party.

“Only an unflinching, indestructible democrat like him can be subjected to a recall process,” he added.
The vote, however, was marred by “illegality, deceit, manipulation, and the diversion of public resources,” according to Marko Cortes of the conservative opposition party PAN.

Morena transformed the vote into a “mockery” to “satisfy its own ego and continue misleading Mexicans,” according to Alejandro Moreno of the PRI, which ruled Mexico for seven decades until 2000.

On Lopez Obrador’s suggestion, 93 million voters were eligible to vote in the midterm referendum, which was included into Mexico’s constitution in 2019.

His supporters provided the majority of the signatures required for the vote to take place.
Experts believed that Lopez Obrador’s policy agenda, including contentious energy changes, would gain traction if he won.
The president is also looking ahead to the elections in 2024, as well as the prospects for his party and potential successors, such as Mexico City Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum.

“We all knew the president would not be removed and that his opponents would not vote,” political analyst Hernan Gomez Bruera said.

Despite the strong turnout, Lopez Obrador and his supporters demonstrated that they have “political might” to rally support, he said.

“The true litmus test will be in 2024, when he steps down, because no one appears capable of succeeding him,” Bruera remarked.
According to a poll of polls conducted by the Oraculus organization, Lopez Obrador had a 58 percent approval rating in March, down from an all-time high of 81 percent in February 2019.

Carmen Sobrino, a 64-year-old homemaker, said she voted because she was satisfied with Lopez Obrador’s performance.
“I hope he keeps going,” she remarked after voting in the capital.

Before the election, the president accused the National Electoral Institute of sabotaging the exercise in cooperation with his political opponents by neglecting to publicize it sufficiently.

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