In a post earlier this year on President Peña’s energy reform proposal, we predicted that the leftist opposition PRD’s efforts to organize a nationwide referendum calling for the repeal of the reform legislation would suit Mr. Peña just fine, as it would lead to indefinite fiddling around with no results. And now, just as it fuzzily appeared in our crystal ball, eternal caretaker of the fatherland Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) is working hard to make us look smart. On August 21, a group of high profile intellectuals from academia and the creative arts presented a letter to the media calling upon the country’s leftist political forces, led by the PRD and Mr. López Obrador’s new Morena party, to unify behind a single referendum in order to maximize the potential for repeal of the reform. The group included long-time AMLO supporters such as writer Elena Poniatowska and other stalwarts of the intellectual left.
The proposal makes plenty of sense, since holding two separate referendums for different constituencies will weaken the perception of a national consensus against the reform and dilute the resulting numbers for both referendums. Nonetheless, as if scripted by Mr. Peña himself, AMLO quickly rejected the proposal, saying that Morena could not risk being “betrayed” by the PRD. To review, López Obrador was the leading figure in the PRD for years and twice served as the party’s presidential candidate, until finally splitting off and forming his own party this year. He is within his right to change his mind, of course, but for the moment it appears that the left’s efforts to derail the reform are struggling.
AMLO’s comments on the unified referendum proposal were surely met with chuckles and high fives at Los Pinos, since as we have described before, opposition parties on both the left and right are doing the heavy lifting themselves for their detractors. We feel that the likelihood of a popular referendum ultimately overturning the energy reform is slim at best. If the left doesn’t set aside its spiteful differences and find a united path, these odds will become slimmer still.