December 10, 2007

Morales And His Party Approve Their Constitution

MABB © ®

The MAS and Morales approved their Constitution yesterday, December 9, 2007. After a marathon session of around 16 hours (or more, for what I can tell). The image above was taken by Mario Ronald from Palabras Libres, who has been blogging directly from Oruro. Checkout his images and podcasts, their phenomenal.

As we've already said, the opposition was virtually not present and the lack of debate characterized the entire session. However, Doria Medina (UN) was there making observations and suggestion, which can be read in the record, I guess. Other than that, the masistas flew over the approval with an alarming dexterity. There were 164 of 255 assembly members present, and the text has 411 articles.

As Pronto* already pointed out, there are changes to the current system. For example, there will be four branches of government or powers, executive, legislative, judicial and electoral. The National Electoral Court (CNE) has been elevated to a government branch rang. Congress will remain bicameral, but the number of deputies and senators will vary. The senate will have 36 rather than 27 members and the lower chamber will have 121 rather than 130 members. The proportionality of representation within congress is an enigma in this moment.

The second electoral round has been introduced in the election of president and vicepresident. However, continuous and indefinite reelection is not in (not yet). To be president a Bolivian born person has to be at least 30 years old.

A recall mechanism has been introduced for all elected offices, at the local and national levels.

On the judicial front, communitarian justice has been given the same status as ordinary justice. The justice system's regulatory organ will be made up of judges and communitarian justice 'officials'. Justices will be elected.

Officials of the electoral court will be designated by Congress, two of which will have to be representatives of the indigenous peoples.

The use of the 2/3 voting threshold to encourage negotiation and agreement will be replaced by the simple majority or what they call, absolute majority.

Check out Miguel's (Pronto*) post on the same topic.

Other things to consider:

The final approval will depend on the next three referendums and is expected by the government for the end of 2008. First the recall referendum has to be carried out. This'll be the one asking the people if they are with Evo or against him. The second referendum (not sure if these two will be at the same time) will be the one asking at what should be the size of large property that people will be allowed to have before the state takes it away (5000 or 10000 hectares). The third referendum will aim at asking the people to approve or discard the new constitution. Only after that, if the new Constitution is approved it will be put in force. So we have at least one more year to go.


galloglass said...

Miguel: I don't think this constitution will ever be put up for a vote. The media luna and Chuquisaca don't accept it, as the constitution was born in illegality. They'd revolt before submitting to it.

miguel (mabb) said...

I am not so sure. Why didn't they revolt already? I am sure they (the opposition) are aware that once it is approved, it is more difficult to fight against it.

Some people in the opposition will engage in the government's game and will make campaign for the 'no' vote in the referendum. Taking part in this referendum is already a way to accept the government's game.

I am kind of doubtful anybody will revolt. Perhaps more hopeful than anything else. :-)

Norman said...

May I ask a stupid question? The violations of the ley Convocatoria and of the representation of the Bolivian people seem apparent to me and have obviously been identified by the opposition. Has anyone filed a suit in a court of law to stop this? If not, why not?

miguel (mabb) said...

At the risk of sounding like my professor: no question is stupid. :-)

There are tons of suits filed in many instances of the justice department. There is a suit against the President for ordering the killing of the Sucre victims, there is a suit against the assembly presidency for passing the resolution that took the issue of moving the seat of government off the debate, there is a recurso constitucional (a suit to declare something unconstitutional) against the decisions taken in the assembly, etc., etc., etc. The government just doesn't seem to think this is important.

On the side of the government there are also a number of suits against the Prefectos for traitors and against the leaders in Sucre, also for traitors.

Justice is very politicized in Bolivia.

Gringo said...

I am not so sure. Why didn't they revolt already?

Then consider the recent autonomy resolution in Santa Cruz, and the Mortales response: "illegal and unconstitutional" ( see previous thread for documentation). Is that not an indication that Mortales might consider the autonomy resolution a revolt?

miguel (mabb) said...

Yes, you are right. The declaration of autonomy might be considered a revolt.

But, I think, here by revolt was meant something more violent.