Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador on Tuesday proposed holding a recall referendum on his presidency on March 21, 2021, if Congress cannot agree to a constitutional change permitting the vote during mid-term legislative elections.
Lopez Obrador took office in December vowing to give the public a chance to vote him out of office halfway through his six-year term, but that plan has met resistance in the Senate from opposition lawmakers concerned about its implications.
Critics say the proposed constitutional amendment would let Lopez Obrador put himself at the center of the campaign ahead of mid-term federal elections, which should be held around June 2021, and could be used to encourage support for permitting presidential re-election.
At his regular morning news conference, Lopez Obrador acknowledged that there was resistance to his plan, while arguing it would be cheaper to hold the recall vote on the same day as Mexico elects a new lower house of Congress in 2021.
To break the impasse, Lopez Obrador said his proposal was to have the recall vote on March 21, 2021, provided the two votes could be held without adding additional costs for the public.
The constitution limits Mexico's president to a single six-year term. No re-election has been a principle of Mexican politics since Francisco Madero campaigned in 1909 against Porfirio Diaz, who held on to power for three decades.
Several Latin American leaders have changed laws to allow them to be re-elected, including leftists such as Venezuela's late President Hugo Chavez and President Evo Morales in Bolivia.
Former right-leaning Colombian leader Alvaro Uribe also engineered a constitutional change to allow him to run for re-election.