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Mexico president downplays sparse turnout in referendum vote

August 2, 2021 GMT
Indigenous Tzotzil women eat breakfast during a non-binding national referendum on whether Mexican ex-presidents should be tried for any illegal acts during their time in office, in the Corazon de Maria community of Chiapas state, Mexico, Sunday, Aug. 1, 2021. (AP Photo/Emilio Espejel)
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Indigenous Tzotzil women eat breakfast during a non-binding national referendum on whether Mexican ex-presidents should be tried for any illegal acts during their time in office, in the Corazon de Maria community of Chiapas state, Mexico, Sunday, Aug. 1, 2021. (AP Photo/Emilio Espejel)
1 of 8
Indigenous Tzotzil women eat breakfast during a non-binding national referendum on whether Mexican ex-presidents should be tried for any illegal acts during their time in office, in the Corazon de Maria community of Chiapas state, Mexico, Sunday, Aug. 1, 2021. (AP Photo/Emilio Espejel)

MEXICO CITY (AP) — Mexico President Andrés Manuel López Obrador on Monday downplayed the abysmal turnout for a national referendum on pursuing ex-presidents for alleged wrongdoing during their administrations.

Only 7% of Mexico’s eligible voters participated Sunday, but the president preferred to focus on the fact that more than 6 million voted, declaring it a “triumph.” Nine out of 10 voted “yes” on the question.

“Democracy is never going to fail,” López Obrador said.

The participation fell well short of the 40% required to make the vote binding, though observers gave that little importance since former presidents can already be prosecuted. The president suggested lawmakers should consider lowering the required percentage and blamed the National Elections Institute, which conducted the referendum, for the low turnout.

López Obrador also said that he expects to hold another national referendum in February giving voters the opportunity to decide whether he should complete the final three years of his six-year term.