October 19, 2008

The Negotiations in Congress

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The debate and negotiations that were supposed to have taken place in last year's Constitutional Assembly are taking place today in the Bolivian Congress. Today's objective for the President of the Bolivian Congress, VP Alvaro Garcia, is to approve a law convoking a referendum to approve or disapprove the new constitution. Parallel to this debate, the negotiating tables are still working. Already there are rumors, from the side of the government mainly, that there are around 100 articles agreed upon.

Some of the issues being talked about are the following.

Agreements on:

The ownership of land - 5000 hectares for agricultural work and 10000 hectares for cattle farming.

With this agreement, the referendum on the approval of this specific article would not happen.

The election of plurinominal (per list) or uninominal (per district) legislators - This is a bit confusing still because there are various versions. In La Razón, it is reported that there will only be plurinominal deputies. The argument is that the MAS wants to prevent minority governments by preventing cross-voting, i.e. voting for a President and for a deputy of another political party.

In El Deber however, it is reported that the new Congress should have the same number of members (130), 70 uninominal and 60 plurinominal in the lower chamber. In the Senate there should be 32 members, 4 for each department and one indigenous Senator.

The social control - The opposition argues that this fourth branch of government receives too much power over the other branches of government. So this point is a major issue!

The reform to the constitution - It is said that the new agreement will allow to discard any reform to the constitution with a simple majority (in Bolivia called absolut majority) and instead the 2/3 rule will apply.

Sources: La Razon, El Deber, Erbol, Fides, El Diario