(Bloomberg) -- Mexico’s Congress approved a bill that would allow voters to recall popular President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador after three years in office.
The law, which passed 356 to 84 in the lower house on Tuesday, allows citizens to call for a vote to replace presidents half-way through their terms. That means that AMLO, as the leftist president is known, could potentially face a recall vote in early 2022.
Critics of the move say it sets a dangerous precedent by tinkering with nation’s century-old six-year single-term limit, designed to prevent abuse of power. Lopez Obrador and his Morena party themselves pushed for the law, arguing that Mexican people choose their presidents and should be able to remove them.
The constitutional change now goes to state legislatures, where it’s expected to be ratified.
Gustavo de Hoyos President of business chamber Coparmex, has warned that altering the part of the constitution that governs the length of the presidential term sets a precedent for more such changes.
Re-election in Latin America is a sensitive issue given a history of leaders remaining beyond their original mandates, often undermining democratic institutions.
Lopez Obrador has repeatedly promised that he won’t seek re-election, a move that would require another constitutional amendment to change the six-year limit.
By granting citizens the right to determine the permanence of the president, the law could potentially be interpreted to allow the head of state to remain in office provided he had popular support, said Arturo Pueblita, a constitutional-law expert at the Ibero-American University in Mexico City.
The bill was adjusted to postpone the potential recall vote date. Opposition parties had objected to the original proposal from Lopez Obrador’s party to hold the vote at the same time as the mid-term election in June 2021, when all 500 seats in the lower house are up for grabs.
They were concerned that putting the popular Lopez Obrador on the same ballot as the Congressional vote could favor candidates from his party by allowing them to ride his coattails.
--With assistance from Nacha Cattan.
To contact the reporter on this story: Eric Martin in Mexico City at firstname.lastname@example.org
To contact the editors responsible for this story: Juan Pablo Spinetto at email@example.com, Matthew Bristow
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