Monday, March 06, 2006

Bolivia: Compromise Reached For Constitutional Assembly

Compromise it..

This weekend an important compromise was reached in the Bolivian congress to set the ground rules for the elections to elect delegates to the assembly charged with re-drafting Bolivia's constitution, and in setting up the autonomy discussions.

Evo and MAS were trying to throttle through an arrangement where the outcome could have been a majority for MAS, if we went by the 2005 election results and Evo's current popularity. The mechanics of this proposal and of the eventual compromise are set out in this prior post, which summarizes the careful analysis by both Miguel at Ciao and MABB.

Against this lined up the opposition parties, the smaller departments, and of course the Santa Cruz-based autonomy movement, which combines its elected officials, its congressional delegation, business sectors, and the social movements. The issue is heavily tied in to the autonomy issue for Santa Cruz, since re-drafting Bolivia's Constitution would necesarilly involve setting the rules and scope for any departmental autonomy. Given the antagonism between MAS and the pro-autonomy forces - and the traditional East-West rivalry a MAS majority could stamp out any pretentions for autonomy.

From Joker to Broker, Garcia Linera As Dealmaker


How are Bush and Evo Similar?

They both have lilly-white vp's who are the true brains behind the presidency and who can't shoot worth s$#%!

Vice President Garcia Linera is being credited, even by those on the right, with helping broker the compromise. From a self-taught Sociologist,whose writings were almost Senderismo-light he now seems to have become Mr. pragmatism. Maybe he has started reading the Federalist Papers. Whatever it is, he helped cut a deal that MAS and its more radical followers did not want.

Its All Good

In the end it was probably Santa Cruz that presented the more powerful challenge and counterweight, since MAS has a majority in both Chambers. The Cruce~os did it by displaying a united front, and implicitly threatening to secede.

This is a good sign, it means that regions, social movements, native peoples, interest groups, will be represented in drafting a document that would act as a charter for the nation.

Representative Democracy is not only about popularity in polls and absolute majorities, it is about checks and balances, and protection of majority and minority rights. What MAS tried doing was no different than what Fujimori did in Peru in 1992 when he tried justifying his coup, by showing poll numbers. That is precisely what this new document should try to stop.