Wrong message – el financiero

The mandate revocation consultation is, in principle, scheduled for April 10, coinciding with the 103rd death anniversary of Emiliano Zapata. The exercise is expected to be one of the most intense political processes of the year, so it’s worth taking some readings of public opinion in this regard.

The consultation consists of a legal figure and its organization reacts to the logic of a constitutional election organized by the INE, in which the entire electorate would be called to participate. Nevertheless, the consultation divides opinion among citizens as to whether it is necessary or not: half the population believes it is necessary (50%) and almost the other half (47%) does not, according to EL FINANCIERO. According to a national survey conducted last November.

These positions have a strong partisan component. Most of Morena’s supporters consider the consultation necessary, while most PAN and PRD supporters see it as an unnecessary effort. PRIs and nonpartisans are more divided in their opinion. Among non-partisan people, the largest group, 45 percent, consider it necessary and 53 percent not.

Beyond partisanship, this type of consultation reflects an interest in providing Mexican society with mechanisms for direct and participatory democracy. There are those who view consultations and referendums as democratic exercises that empower citizens to make decisions in matters of public interest.

There are also those who express skepticism and point to the referendum being one of the resources used by populist leaders to decide issues on behalf of the “people”, when in fact they are seeking a return to democracy. taking steps in that direction.

Political scientist Adam Przeworski expresses an intermediate position. in his book crisis of democracy (Cambridge 2019), points out that the popular initiative referendum is, in fact, one of the preferred mechanisms used by populist parties to reject institutional order and forms of representative democracy, but He does not see them as something necessarily anti-democratic. , The debate is open.

What attracted much attention was that President López Obrador, given the controversy over the economic resources needed by the INE to consult, suggested that surveys be conducted instead.

It seems to me that the proposal sends the wrong message. Surveys are excellent method for research and knowledge creation, but they cannot and should not replace elections or citizen consultation.

Elections (in which samples of about a thousand citizens are interviewed) are an informational supplement to elections and consultations, not substitutes (in which millions are expected to vote). Surveys use small samples to make statistical inferences; Elections and consultations are broad, inclusive and defined exercises in public affairs, government and political representation.

But the problem is the message contained in the resolution: that the legitimate aspect of consultation, the outcome that confirms the mandate, seems to be more important than the promotion of citizen participation and direct democracy.

Isn’t the central objective of Direct Democracy Mechanisms to be inclusive and empower citizens to take decisions on public matters?

To be binding, 40 percent participation is required in the consultation. At this point it seems difficult to reach that limit for at least two reasons. One is that due to the issue of resources, there may be fewer polling places than in a federal election and, as a result, there may be less participation.

Secondly, the opposition does not seem to be mobilizing the sentiments of disgruntled citizens to go out and cast negative votes against the President. If it continues like this, the majority that today’s vote showed in favor of AMLO continuing with its mandate could be increased to about 60 percent.

There are additional aspects that can be analyzed on the query. Between now and April, I expect there will be many more opportunities to do so.