October 20, 2008

The State of Negotiations in the Bolivian Congress

MABB © ®

It seems as though the negotiations in the Concerting or Compatibility Commission in Congress are going rather well. Positions have come closer and some agreements are starting to filter out. Issues such as land tenure and use, as well as autonomy are said to being close to an agreement.

There is one issue, however, that is standing out because of its difficulty. It turns out that the government wants to call to general elections as soon as the constitution is approved. This would mean that on January, general elections would be called so that in June a new President, Vicepresident and legislators would be elected. This would mean, in turn, the reduction of mandates.

It is a hard issue because we are talking about elections in no other place than Congress, where the eyes of politicians is not only on the present but also on the next elections. The opposition does not want to accept what they call the reduction of mandates because according to their calculations this would favor Morales.

The opposition thinks or calculates that in the next two years, Morales will still have strong support. Therefore, he is not afraid to go to the polls because he knows he will win. The most pressing possibility however is that the opposition will lose its grip on the Senate and thus render it utterly useless.

Therefore, the opposition is proposing to have the new constitution enter into force after the next elections (in 2010) as the new government takes office. This, would at least give them time to get together and ready themselves for a new electoral exercise.

In the mean time, the Conalcam has reached El Alto and is now, as I type, on its way to plaza Murillo and Congress. Surco, the President, has said the organizations will not leave until the new law calling for a referendum to approve the new constitution is passed. That means, they will siege Congress and stay there to pressure legislators to pass the law.

As you have see on my earlier post, some legislators have gone prepared to congress bringing their own mattresses in order to stay in the building and prevent any political maneuvering from the part of the government.