September 24, 2005

Elections 2005 Are Hanging on the Edge

MABB © ®
This is what the BBC via AP is saying:

Dispute puts Bolivia vote on hold
Presidential elections in Bolivia have been put on hold after a court ordered the redistribution of several seats in the country's parliament.

Three highland provinces will lose representation, while the eastern area of Santa Cruz will gain more seats.

The head of Bolivia's election board said the vote, due before the end of the year, could not take place until the court ruling was implemented.

The affected provinces branded the decision a conspiracy.

They have threatened blockades on major roads.

Oscar Hassenteuffel, the head of Bolivia's election board, said no vote could take place until parliament approves the changes.

Bolivia's constitutional court ruled against an electoral law that said population information from a 2001 census should form the basis for parliamentary elections.

La RazonThe Constitutional Tribunal gave its veredict on the case the Congress' Santa Cruz faction brought before them. In it the faction asked the tribunal to force Congress to apply the law and use the 2001 census for the distribution of seats in congress. The highest court of the land said that the newest census (2001) should be used in the distribution of seats. This does not dramatically change the composition of Congress but it does give four more seats to Santa Cruz and two more to Cochabamba at the expense of La Paz, Potosi and Oruro. However, the problem is that this veredict might result on the delaying of the December 4 elections. As you may already be thinking, this would bring Bolivia's democratic stability to a new testing point.

One problem is that the loser regions are not ready to accept the high court's decision and have said already that they are planning certain measures of protest. Among them, road blockades and massive demonstrations. The problem does not only go to the general elections but also to next years constitutional assembly. The other probles is that radical groups within the MAS and the "crew" in El Alto are also ready to start protests. The MAS will argue that the "right" is trying to steal the elections from them. The radicals in El Alto, well, I am sure they will find a reason soon enough.

Thanks to Miguel's (Ciao!) comment. He acurately points out that the last paragraph of the BBC's article I quote here is just plain wrong. It should say that the court ruled in favor of the law and not against it. So much for trusting the professionals, ha?

Miguel from Ciao! has put a sobering post about the BBC's goof-off with its article about Bolivia. Read the post here. He has contacted the BBC so they can rectify their mistake, but according to Miguel, 24 hours after the initial contact the article is still online. This is getting ridiculous.