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What Mexico’s upcoming presidential referendum actually means

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Carlos Rosado van der Gracht
Born in Mérida, Carlos Rosado van der Gracht is a Mexican/Canadian blogger, photographer and adventure expedition leader. He holds degrees in multimedia, philosophy and translation from universities in Mexico, Canada and Norway. Sign up for the Yucatán Roundup, a free newsletter, which delivers the week's top headlines every Monday.
One of the hundreds of signs in the Yucatán Peninsula calling on Mexicans to vote for the President to stay in office. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht

More posters and propaganda have hit the streets as the referendum on the presidency of Andrés Manuel López Obrador draws near. 

The vote scheduled for April 10 has been called a farce by Mexico’s opposition as it’s not legally binding and has no precedent in the nation’s history. 

It is important to note that this referendum was called upon by Mexico’s president himself, in what critics call a publicity stunt.

“The president has been campaigning his entire life, he knows nothing else, least of which is actually governing,” said Denise Dresser, a prominent journalist and political scientist. 

Several political groups are calling on citizens to ignore the referendum altogether as to deny it any real legitimacy. 

Several organizations including the COPARMEX, are calling on Mexicans to stay away from polling stations on April 10. But others are actively promoting his ouster. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht

Earlier: Internal scandal dents AMLO’s popularity and sharpens hostilities against media

But aside from stroking the ego of the president, a more sinister motive behind the referendum is suspected — laying the groundwork for re-election. 

Presidential second terms are prohibited by Mexico’s constitution, but as the president’s party has a majority in both houses of representatives, changing the law is not out of the question. 

As a sort of tradeoff to the impossibility of re-election, the executive in Mexico serves a term of six years, a compromise that has held up for more than a century. 

The president has stated on several occasions that he will not seek re-election. But one slogan used on many radio and TV ads proclaims “protect democracy, have AMLO stay.”

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