The first popular consultation organized in Mexico failed. There is no doubt about it. According to the estimates of the National Electoral Institute (INE), barely 7 out of every hundred people with the capacity to do so voted. Few people, very few, if one takes into account that for the result to be binding the participation of 40 percent of the electorate was needed.
What was sought was for citizens to turn to the polls to promote a series of trials against politicians. The question was ambiguous by decision of the Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation, but the promoters of the day were very clear in their ideal: to prosecute all living former presidents of Mexico, leaving Luis Echeverría out.
The consultation failed because the common citizen did not find the subject interesting, but also because President Andrés Manuel López Obrador sent mixed messages about it. First, the federal president said that he did not intend to vote; But if he did, he would vote No, because he is not a man of revenge. Then, a few days before the consultation, AMLO said that he did plan to vote, but that because he was on tour, he could not do so. Of course, he claimed that tables were not available for people in transit, something that the INE said was not contemplated in the law. “I’m not involved in that,” the president said in Nayarit when asked for his opinion on the matter.
The truth is that the consultation never caught on in the popular spirit, and much less when the president was ambiguous and disinterested. The president could well have modified his tour to be present at the urn next to the National Palace, but this was not the case. I dare to think that López Obrador knew in advance that the consultation would be a failure, and did not want to bear defeat.
But the consultation did not die yesterday, its promoters will sell on social networks and in public messages that the result was a success, since more than 80 percent of the voters voted for Yes. The people spoke and said Yes, it will be the message we will hear in the coming days, and they will immediately begin to set up what they call People’s Courts to publicly prosecute the ex-presidents.
Popular consultations can be a good instrument for important issues in the country, but they must be for cases that can really cause a change in Mexico. Not just for issues of partisan interest.