September 13, 2005

Commentary on Bolivia's Democracy

MABB © ®
Some times I think Bolivia's democratic process is developing in the wrong direction. Instead of making decisions based on consensus, negotiation, political participation and using the tools the system provides to solve problems, the different actors tend to force their way of thinking to gain the result they want. Case in point is this problem of the distribution of the hydrocarbons tax (IDH).

On one side, the government is trying to decree its way out of this new crisis and on the other side, the municipalities and students are trying to force the government to meet their demands by protests, blockades and the like.

It seems to me they are see this issue as teen agers see a pizza. See, when my friends and I used to order a pizza, there was always the problem of not enough pieces for everybody. So we all tried to eat fast to get at least two slices. The same is happening with the IDH, just that the parties cannot take the slices that easily and therefore they are trying to force their way to a slice. Much like the bigger and stronger kid got the last piece in our group.

But, does it make even sense to divide the IDH among all? I guess I am more puzzeld by what is going on than what I know about the problem. I guess the municipalities need these funds to fulfill their mandates. If the money stays in the hands of the government, what is the government going to do with it? Will it use it to pay the debt? reduce the fiscal deficit? invest in job creation? As you can see I have more questions than answers......

On another issue, Tuto is also puzzling me. Why is he so intent on making Evo agree on respecting the first majority? As far as I know, Tuto proposed an out of the ordinary arrangement to respect the first majority resulting from the elections. He said that the parties in congress should respect the person who wins the most votes in the elections and elect him the new persident. To achieve that he is proposing either a consultative referendum to decide between the first and second places in the elections (this is most likely to be him and Evo). After the referendum, the parties in congress would respect the wishes of the people and vote accordingly. The other posibility is to make a pact, mainly between Tuto and Evo, to respect the person who gets more votes and make him president. That would be overseen by the a cardinal.

I have to admit some of Tuto's arguments are appealing to me. He says that the people are tired that their wishes at the ballot box are not being respected. He also says that the voting on parliament are just where the political parties distribute themselves jobs. This is not representative of the preferences of the people. Personally, I have serious doubts about the legitimacy of the "presidential parliamentarist system" in Bolivia. Precisely because it seems, to the naked eye, not to represent the will of the people.

However, what intrigues me the most is the real reasons why Tuto is trying to lock Evo into a political pact of that sort. Is he afraid the presidency will be taken away from his hands? It has happened before to the ADN. Does he know something we don't? Is he seeing some other polls not available to the rest of us? In turn, why is Evo so calmed? He doesn't want to enter into this pact. Based on his last experience, he should be jumping to this opportunity.

We'll see what happens. I assume, we'll know after the fact.