August 18, 2006

First Deliberations of the Assembly

MABB © ®

After having been duly started, with every bit of ceremonial pomposity, the Bolivian Constitutional Assembly (CA) has really started its work. This first item on its agenda is the organization and the establishing the rules of the game for itself. As far as I know, the CA will adopt rules and regulations similar to those of the Deputie's Chamber. I say similar because there are, of course, some variations. Accorging to news reports the assembly is in agreement on about 90% of the document. There are, however, two contentious issues which seem to lead to paralisis. The first issue is to whether adopt a 2/3 rule to vote on each and every article. There are those, MAS for example, that want either simple majority or absolute majority of votes. The MAS and Morales have been supporting the idea of approving each article by simple majority. But, now they seem to be inclined to support the absolute majority method. Whereas, PODEMOS and others have been saying the 2/3 rule (meaning 2/3 of the members in the assembly have to vote to approve anything) assures the dictatorship of the minority does not apply.

The second issue, and perhaps the most difficult, has to do with the nature of the assambly. MAS and his camp are intent into making the assambly supreme. This would mean it has the ultimate power and does not have to watch out to comply with what the current constitution says or any other laws (even those which created it) thereof. To the contrary, even the three branches of government will be subordinated to it. On the other side of the issue we find PODEMOS and the others who argue that the assembly is a body created by the laws of the land, but it has the power to reform the current constitution in its totallity. So the choice is between a CA which is originaria or derivada.

Two issues which seem to be making even more difficult the work of the CA.