Placebo democracy in Mexico
The phrase that "change begins at home" loses meaning when no matter what you do, the country's leaders think more about their image than about the country's future. Mr. President, instead of pretending to do your job, why don’t you start doing it.
On April 10, for the first time in the history of Mexico, voting will take place to determine if the President is to remain in office or leave. On paper, this represents a monumental step towards democracy and citizen participation in Mexican electoral processes. However, it is hard for me to buy into this reality.
Mexico faces a major issue when it comes to citizen participation. In fact, only 33.14% of the electorate elected the current president. The lack of citizen participation in elections clearly denatures the democratic process in Mexico. However, it is an idea that has divided people and also uses federal resources that could be used in one of the many social needs that the country suffers. Why would a president who promotes unity and austerity would decide to continue with this?
The current government has gained popularity through the distribution of handouts and it is hard to blame the Mexican people for falling for the facade. Is it realistic to expect that the 44% of the population that lives in poverty in Mexico is going to question where this help comes from? Certainly not when their minds are focused on securing enough food to last for the end of the week. Now just add a few illusion techniques to make the people believe that their voice is being heard and presto! While the government’s popularity continues to grow the institutions that promote entrepreneurship in the country no longer exist, the support to study abroad has almost completely disappeared and there are 79 murders a day nationwide!
Again, none of this is new, but the current government has taken the masquerade to another level. Take, for example, the 2021 citizen consultation that asked the population if former presidents should be prosecuted for their felonies, cost more than $500 million Mexican pesos. How absurd is it that the principle according to which the judiciary system ought to trial an individual -based on evidence brought forward against him- be submitted to the popular vote and to citizen ideology? This waste of public money puzzles me even more in the context of the severe austerity cuts that the Mexican people had to endure.
The possibility of losing the upcoming election is certainly not worrying the government. Their self-confidence is bolstered by the fact that no majority is even needed to win. By making everyone believe that they have the power to remove the president from office, the government presents itself as a beacon of democratic fairness. But in reality, it merely hides behind a corrupt and paid-off electoral process. Again, so much taxpayer money is being wasted on the campaign for the President’s public image. This public image campaign is proving costly to the Mexican people.
“If one who governs is not up to the task and does not obey the people, revoke his mandate and leave!'' claimed President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) at a rally commemorating the first half of his mandate. It sounds beautiful, and yet it is so blatantly removed from Mexico’s reality that it is embarrassing. They are giving Mexico a placebo democracy, and many are loving it. But has anyone explained what happens if the majority of the people vote to revoke the mandate? Social and economic stability, confidence indicators in the country, among other things, would all go down. A country cannot suddenly be left without a president, in the middle of the mandate. Even if there was a person previously assigned to the position, all this generates national and international lack of control. It would all be so serious, that even those of us who are against this electoral process would not want it to be lost.
There are so many people who want a prosperous Mexico. The phrase that "change begins at home" loses meaning when no matter what you do, the country's leaders think more about their image than about the country's future. Mr. President, instead of pretending to do your job, why don’t you start doing it.
DISCLAIMER: All views expressed are those of the writers and do not necessarily represent that of the IWAB platform.