July 26, 2008

The Fight Over the Recall Referendum Heats Up

MABB © ®

In the last two days, the future of the August 10 recall referendum has become even more uncertain. As a result of the unconstitutionality allegations, and last week's opinion issued by a Constitutional Tribunal judge urging the electoral court to stop the process until the legality of the referendum is cleared, the departmental courts are thinking it over. This action, by the departmental courts, is triggered by a resolution issued by Exeni, the National Electoral Court President, expressing the intent to continue with the organizational process. However, the Vicepresident of the CNE, Jeronimo Pinheiro, has recently voiced his disappointment because Exeni, apparently, did not take the decision in a meeting in consultation with his colleagues, but he took it himself.

As a result, the departmental courts are, first, asking the CNE to take a stand on the matter, and second, to take that stand in cosultation with all the members of the court's assembly. Some courts are even thinking, or rather, leaning towards not participating in the organization of the referendum anymore. Let's recall that the Chuquisaca court decided not to participate.

While this is happening at the courts, the campaign is getting by the day more violent. Every time Evo Morales visits a town bringing gifts, such as ambulances, computers, schools, hospitals, etc., which of course are not part of his campaign for re-election, opposing groups show up and try to hackle him and in the end result in a physical confrontation with the 'security' forces which are part of Morales' entourage.

And, of course, you have Vicepresident Alvaro Garcia, the pacifist, calling for an organized 'civil defense' to support the government or, better yet, the revolution, as he likes to call it.


mcentellas said...

I thought the Chuquisaca CDE voted to declare its objection to the process, but still stated that it would follow the directives of the CNE. I agree that there are problems w/ the text of the referendum law. But I also think the legal foundations for rejecting a referendum (which is different than rejecting the specific format of that referendum) are shaky, at best. Fundamentally, I think a referendum (binding or not) may help at least determine where the political winds have shifted in the last two years.


I agree with centellas this time, this recall referendum is mostly a measurement of powers to define what to do after wards; something interesting I was discussing with a friend yesterday, if Evo looses, he cannot order a new election, he must resign and so his VP and then the presidency is given to Oscar Ortiz, whom can move to Santa Cruz and tell them, I am not resigning!

Of course he is a Podemista and is hoping for his party to take over; he says they have more guts than the Miristas that missed the opportunity with Ormando Vaca Diaz. I don’t know, maybe all this Podemos-MAS butt kissing have more into it, from the Podemos part at least, than previously thinking. Buy the way, not that I think it is a solution to our crisis, I believe something like that will put as back to the Mesa era; a better time than today any ways.

mabb said...

I think that is just it, the different CEDs are symbolically rejecting the recal referendum (RR), they cannot do anything else. To do that, they are loudly and publically criticizing or rather pointing out mistakes.

I don't think anyone can outright reject the RR, but then again, we are talking about Bolivia (was that a cheap shot? :-))

I see where you are coming from. Yes, a referendum might show us a picture (at this point in time) on where the political wind is blowing to. But, unfortunately, right now, that is only interesting to political scientists. I believe things will stay where they are, i.e. there is a necessity for the two sides to sit down and handle, negotiate, compromise, etc., etc., etc.

And again, I am not a lawyer, but I am not sure Evo must step down if he loses. I have not seen such a scenario anywhere. I don't think the law says the loser has to resign, does it? I mean, it is understood but not explicit. I am not really sure what would happen if he lost... But, and that is a big but, I would be REALLY surprised if he would.

mcentellas said...

Yes, I believe the referendums are all "consultative" (Mesa used that term to describe the gas one; Evo used it for the autonomy one). Mesa argued that he only needed to take the referendum results into consideration when crafting new policy. Evo at first suggested that the autonomy referendum would be binding on the constituent assembly, then changed his mind.

What that means is that (as I've argued elsewhere) Evo could lose the recall, but decide to stay. The same is true of the prefects. But the prefects are in a more precarious position, since Evo can still legally merely remove them from office.

mabb said...

It'd be interesting to speculate on what would happen if Evo lost. I am sure those scenarios are going through the heads of the people around him.

As for me, I seriously doubt he would resign. More likely, he would seek come legitimacy from his supporters. Heck, he is already. Garcia is calling MAS supporters to 'defend' the revolution. He is calling them to mobilization. Quite irresponsibly, might I add.