December 07, 2007

Bolivian Constitutional Assembly: Newest Developments

MABB © ®

The newest developments in the Constitutional Assembly barullo (mess, confusion) are interesting to observe and consider.

For example, in the last two days, President Morales has decided to challenge his opponents to a recall vote (in Spanish, referendum revocatorio), while he gets ready to approve his Constitution on December 14 in Chapare, Cochabamba. This is Morales' own region, where support for him is overwhelming. His opponents are the seven Prefectos of Santa Cruz, Cochabamba, Beni, Pando, Sucre, La Paz and Tarija. For the record, they all readily accepted his challenge today. However, to put these development into perspective, there are a couple of things to consider.

The condition the Prefectos are asking for are for Morales to freeze the Constituent Assembly and leave without effect the recently approved senior pension, Renta Dignidad. They argue, these things should be resolved after the referendum. Some Prefectos are reacting skeptical. Why this move now?

Morales has said he is not afraid of the people. He is confident he'll win. Once he does, he said he'll press on with the changes to impose his agenda. He is also said he will accept any decision coming out of the referendum. Even, if it is unfavorable to him. However, for him to be removed, around 54% + one vote of the people would have to vote against him.

On the one hand, 1,544,374 (from 2005) + 1 voters must choose to remove Morales from office. If the vote is just a simple up or down vote, he could be removed from office. But if the vote includes more choices, such as the Prefectos, then it will be virtually impossible to reach the number cited above.

I cannot really figure it out what would be the best formula for Morales to use, assuming he wants to stay in power. One question could be, are you with me or against me. But, with that he will not be assuring his victory.

I guess we will know once he sends his proposed law calling for the referendum.

Meanwhile, preparations are under way to approve his Constitution without the presence of the opposition. I am thinking, if he approves his Constitution, why call the referendum? Unless that is a demand or a condition to convince some skeptics to join the vote in Chapare next December 14. That would mean, he would have the upper hand by having a Constitution and using the referendum to consolidate his government.

Sorry, for the rumbling, I am just thinking out loud.