April 27, 2006

Evo Morales Presses to Tighten his Power

MABB © ®

It is rather obvious now that the policy of Evo Morales is to tighten his grip on power. As I've been saying as of late here and here, him and his government have been pressing for the consolidation of power. His aim is to redisign a "new" Bolivian state. A state no one knows how will it look like. He has not put any suggestions forward or has any ideological advances so others can perhaps deduct from them. It seems that he is either improvising as he goes along or he is just not telling what his plans are.

The latest moves are two: First, he wants to dry up the state campaign funds of the opposition, while he has moved to increase the funds for his own party. As mentioned in an eralier post, the directors of MAS have demanded (and later asked) a 5% contribution from the bureaucratic apparatus of the government. So, with this new policy, every person who works in government, central, departmental or municipal, is (morally) obliged to contribute to MAS. According to some newspapers, the contributions range from Bs. 30 to 3000. On the other hand, Morales' party is opposing and practically freezing a new law, which would provide for state funds for the political parties' campaigns. State funding for campaigns has been one of the reasons why many parties of all ideologies have been able to participate in the political arena in Bolivia. By freezing this law, the government and MAS in Congress are practically leaving the opposition without funds and without any chance to take their message accross.

Second, the changing of leadership at the National Electoral Court (CNE) and the Constitutional Tribunal (TC) are under way. As a result of pressure applied by the government in recent months, when it criticized the methods of the CNE and some rulings of the TC, three officials from the CNE and four from the TC have resigned from their posts. That gave way for other people to come in. For many critics, inside Bolivia and outside, the government's meddling with the affairs of supposedly two independent organs within the system, is going outside executive authority and is breaching the separation of powers principle of the Bolivian constitution.

It is clear that Morales' aim is to cope power so he and his party have an easy time designing what kind of country do they want at the oncoming Constitutional Assembly. What is not clear however, is how will this new country look like. To my knowledge there is not proposal, plan or even a draft of it. There are only vague statements from the MAS leadership.