The controversial referendum promoted by the Mexican president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO), on whether or not to try the last five former presidents of the Aztec country has counted this Sunday with a participation of 7%, far from the 40% necessary for it to be binding. The vast majority of the 93 million Mexicans called to the polls have turned their backs on one of López Obrador’s electoral promises in his 2018 campaign: to put to a popular vote the need to judge the last five former Mexican presidents. AMLO has described the vote as a “success” “because democracy never fails”.

He blamed the National Electoral Institute (INE) for the low turnout because “they had no enthusiasm for this consultation or for democracy”. “It is not a question of money because the number of ballot boxes could have been increased and the collaboration of state and municipal governments and the people could have been requested”. “Our idea was to do it on the same day as the 6 June election” in the mid-term parliamentary elections. “They pretend to be democrats,” he reproached on Monday in his daily press conference.

The result, as was predictable, was an overwhelming majority in favour of judging “the political decisions taken in the past years by political actors aimed at guaranteeing justice and the rights of possible victims”: between 89% and 96% voted “yes” while only 1.4% and 1.6% rejected prosecution, according to the INE’s quick count. “It does not rule out the possibility of lawsuits,” AMLO said.

The president of the National Committee of the Popular Action Party (PAN), the second largest group in the Chamber of Deputies, Marko Cortés, has described the appointment with the polls as “a whim” that has cost 22.3 million euros: “It only showed that Mexico no longer wants more deception. It doesn’t believe in the ideas any more”. The president of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), the third force in parliament, Alejandro Moreno, described the vote as “a propaganda game” that “only served for citizens to shout in their faces the rejection of their ineptitude”.

AMLO has singled out the press as the enemy of democracy: “The media is completely silent. How is democracy going to suit the big media? It was not the fourth power. It was the second. Only a few exceptional media like La Jornada”. López Obrador showed the front page of Sunday’s La Jornada with the headline “Let’s vote”: “Here’s for other media to learn from”. “It’s a good start for participatory democracy. It is an inheritance we are going to leave. Don’t be afraid of the people. When more than 3 million signatures were gathered for the energy reform, the consultation was denied”. The Mexican president recalled the vote in March on whether he would remain in office: “Do you want the president to continue or resign? More people will vote. This is the opportunity of our adversaries, the conservatives. A president must have the backing of the people”.

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