August 10, 2007

Problems in MAS-IP: Its Structure and Future

MABB © ®

As you know MAS-IP is not a traditional political party, per se. It is, what its supporters call, a political instrument. This means it is an instrument being used by the various ethnic organizations to take over power in Bolivia. An interesting concept and, up to now, rather successful. However, as with many coalitions, over the long run, it is difficult to maintain unity. It seems as though the MAS is in a crucial moment because public ruptures are starting to come up, specially in the Constitutional Assembly.

To understand these ruptures, it is convenient first to go over the composition of MAS. The 'party' rests on a 'unity pact' made by many ethnic organizations. These organizations represent mainly indigenous peoples and are: The Unique Syndicate Confederation of Bolivian Peasant Workers (CSUTCB), Bartolina Sisa Federation of Peasant Women, the National Council of Markas and Ayllus of Qullasuyu (Conamaq, high lands), and the Confederation of Indigenous Peoples (CIDOB, low lands). In addition, MAS has a series of allies: the Without Fear Movement (MSM), the Cochabamba civic organizations, United Citizens (CIU) and Total Change, and the Pando civic organization Amazonic Movement for Democratic Renovation (MAR) together with Amazonic and Social Power (PASO) (info on the last two).

From these organizations, the CIDOB (5 votes) and Conamaq (5) have recently announced their withdrawal from the pact. This withdrawal has added to also recent efforts of some dissidents to form a third way to counter the weight of MAS. The third way includes all the micro forces in the assembly: MOP (3), AS (3), CN (2), AYRA (2), ASP (2), Lindo Fernández y Edilberto Arispe (Podemos), Loyola Guzmán (MAS) y Juan Zubieta (MCSFA). A possible addition is MBL (1). The dissident movement rests MAS important votes and makes its goal to control 2/3 of the votes an impossibility. MAS controls 142 votes and would need 170 votes to control the assembly. It has been reported that MAS stands to lose around 30 votes. It's looking as an uphill battle for MAS.

Note: See also an article on the same topic on Pronto*


mcentellas said...

The numbers suggest that MAS could not just lose its ability to build a 2/3 coaltion ... it could no longer have a simple majority!

mabb said...

Yes, thanks, I forgot to mention that. Although, technically the third way is not separated from MAS, officially.

It's like playing in the financial markets. :-)

mcentellas said...

It seems the opposition grows larger every week. And it also looks like it's mostly due to Evo/MAS misstepts than anything else.

galloglass said...

Did you see the video of the press conference? Evo comes off as a pitiful, helpless, mendicant...and how about warning and threatening investors before they come...that will keep them coming...Kirchner says more or less "don't worry Evito, we'll take care of you." As if Chavez and Kirchner don't have mercenary intentions and would love to divide the spoils...but Evo thinks that they're his brothers...

galloglass said...

This doesn't look very promising.
Evo advierte desde el Trópico de Cochabamba que regirá por decretos

mabb said...

I think you are right. Things are not looking good. It must be that old rule in politics, the longer the government is in office, the thinner its support gets.

There is such a rule, right?

No, I haven't seen the video, but I would assume Morales does think Hugo and Nestor are his friends. He has to rely on someone, why not on governments that are willing to give him, not just moral support but financial as well. With the last comment I am referring to Hugo.

And lastly, I am not sure how long would Morales be able to govern by decree. He'd even risk loosing the support of his own Senators and Deputies, if he does that. It is not a good thing. I think he does not have good council.

mcentellas said...

I think the days of decretismo are all but finished in Bolivia. At least not w/o solid legislative support (previous presidents could make sweeping decrees because they were supported by wide legislative majorities, a feature of pacted or 'parliamentarized' presidentialism). This supports the idea (from many on the left & the right) that Evo is repeating the playbook of characters like Busch, Barrientos, and Torres. But I think those days are past; there's no single dominant hegemonic discourse (like 'revolutionary nationalism') that most sectors are willing to accept.

galloglass said...

I'd agree with you Miguel, given the fact that MAS doesn't have enough support to get the new constitution off the drawing board. But it is an insight into the mind of Evo that he'd ponder the thought(decretismo).

mabb said...

I don't know. I would argue that MAS and Morales have the potential to start ruling by decree. The trick is if Morales can impose party discipline, I think it would be doable. Also, the dominant discourse, I think, has been anti-neoliberalism.

The question is, how much fear of neoliberalism can Morales and his cadre instill into their bases (as they call their supporters)?

If the bases are afraid enough, they'll follow Morales off the board. Some signs are already visible. VP Garcia has talked about a balance between decree government and law making. The Deputy, Gustavo Torrico, has blamed the opposition for the government's decree ambitions. He says there are some issues that would be appropriate to handle with decrees.

I am sure Torrico is not the only one who thinks like that in Congress. In Congress, imagine that!