May 13, 2008

Recall Vote for Morales, his Vicepresident and the Prefects

MABB © ®

In the last days, Congress (better yet the Senate) approved a recall vote law to allow a referendum for the people of Bolivia to either give the pink slip to the current government and the departmental heads of state or to give them continuity.

The Senate chamber passed a law, which was submitted by the government in 2007 and approved by the lower chamber shortly thereafter, to recall the mandates of the president, vicepresident and the prefects of the nine Bolivian departments. This law says that the people of Bolivia will be able to vote in a referendum to recall these authorities from office. In the case of the president and vicepresident, the people voting to remove them from office would have to be more than the 53.7% who voted to elect them in December 2005. In the case of the prefects, each would have to get more votes against than what they got in December 2005 as well.

This move came as a surprise, because when the law was submitted for the consideration of the Senate chamber (controlled by the opposition), it made several observations and drew its own proposal, which was significantly different than the one submitted by the government. This decision divided somewhat the opposition. Some leaders criticized the decision ( of the Senate) as unwise and down right stupid.

From the Senate came the word that the decision was more than anything a political calculation. In their opinion, the government was preparing to go ahead and pass their referendum law to submit their constitution to popular vote. In order to stop this, the Senate allowed the recall vote referendum, because they argue that according to the law, the government cannot organize two referenda in one year. The opposition in the Senate argues that the referendum approving the new government's constitution is stopped.

The opposition in the Senate is counting that the government will take into account the law. However, the second in command in the Ministry of Government, said that the government has the legal ability to call to that referendum too.

The opposition is taking a big risk. Granted the prefects of Santa Cruz, Beni, Pando and Tarija are relatively secure, the ones who are afraid are the prefect of Cochabamba, La Paz and Chuquisaca. These latter have more MAS supporters to deal with.