Weekly Report - 10 February 2022 (WR-22-06)

MEXICO: Recall vote formally announced

On 4 February, Mexico’s national electoral institute (INE) formally announced the presidential recall vote, which will take place on 10 April. The vote, which President Andrés Manuel López Obrador is banking on to give his popular mandate a boost in the latter half of his term, has been a source of ongoing tension between the INE and the Movimiento Regeneración Nacional (Morena) government.

INE president Lorenzo Córdova lamented that the recall would not be carried out in the “ideal” way, but rather in the way that budget constraints allowed. The INE has repeatedly tried and failed to obtain more money from the government, following cuts to its 2022 budget [WR-22-01].

The INE says it now has M$1.57bn (US$76.4m) available for the recall after making savings in other areas and adjusting plans for the vote, which it had initially calculated would cost M$3.8bn. One major consequence of this cost-cutting is a reduction in the number of polling stations that will be installed on voting day, from the 161,000 stipulated by law to around 57,000. This will include 300 special polling stations – one in each electoral district – at which those who are away from their home constituency on voting day will be able to vote. Given its budget difficulties, the supreme court (SCJN) has protected the INE from legal complaints related to the reduced number of polling stations.  

Córdova admitted that some people will have to travel further to vote. However, he stated that every citizen would receive a ballot paper and the conditions were there for the maximum number of people to vote if they wished. For the referendum to be legally valid, 40% of the electorate must participate.

The government continues to be sceptical of the INE’s budget concerns. In January, Morena presented the electoral body with an austerity plan, which it said would produce savings of almost M$3bn. This week, Morena party president Mario Delgado accused the INE of hiding an additional M$534m that it has available for the vote, given that the electoral body had previously said it would allocate M$2.09bn to the recall.

López Obrador’s approval

President López Obrador’s approval rating is still running well above 50%. In a poll carried out from 28 to 30 January, national daily El Financiero found that López Obrador’s approval rating stood at 60%, albeit down from 67% in December. When asked how they would vote in the recall referendum, 55% of those surveyed by El Financiero said that they would vote in favour of López Obrador staying in office for the remainder of his term, whereas 40% said that they would vote for him to leave office.

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