Editorial: Already backtracking on constitutional changes

The deputies briefly ponder a 57-page business wish list before passing it on for months of comments and study. National Assembly photo.

Already the “reform package” is in trouble

Why is the legislature touching constitutional reform at all? It’s because the political caste — the National Assembly above all, but also courts and at least four successive administrations — has been on a 20-year crime spree that’s both expensive and poses the danger of people getting fed up and doing something drastic. So business leaders came up with a lengthy set of constitutional reform proposals that changes little of substance but might appear otherwise to the poorly educated, so as to fend off anything that might endanger their privileged positions in a society with among the world’s most unequal distribution of wealth.

Problem number one is that the legislators don’t want to see term limits on themselves. Problem two is that nobody in the political caste wants to be vulnerable to ordinary justice for peculation or other crimes. Problem three is that instead of just naming names — ‘You, you, you, you and you — you’re barred not only from the judicial bench  but also from the practice of law, forever…’ — the proffered solution for the sale of justice is lengthening magistrates terms from 10 years to 15 or more and creating a nominating process where rich white men in suits rather than elected officials say who can be a magistrate.

Are the rest of all those pages “wonkish?” More like a Leggo government kit.

So after some initial noise about how anything that alters the National Assembly gravy train schedule is dead on arrival, the thing is going to three months of “consultations” before a final draft goes to a vote by the legislators at the end of this current session and again early next year, to be followed by submission to the voters. We now know how badly it’s going by hearing the suggestion that it won’t be one proposal to the voters, but several, probably dozens.

Might passing two things and losing on 48 save somebody’s face? Or might the voters be convinced to pass the whole thing in many bits and pieces? You know that the “No” campaign will urge people to vote down every bit of it.

The business elites may want these changes, but there isn’t enough money to be made from them for many companies or their owners to spend very much to promote the package. If President Cortizo gets too involved and then loses, he becomes a lame duck. Look for a PRD government that came in with slightly more than one-third of the vote to present whatever proposal it will to the voters, but have a hard time convincing people to vote.

It’s early yet and lots of things can happen, but the constitutional reform package looks like it’s in trouble at this point.


We have only the people’s hearts and minds to depend upon. If we cast them aside and lose the people’s hearts, what can we use to sustain the country?

Empress Dowager Cixi


Bear in mind…


I am not afraid… I was born to do this.
Joan of Arc


To gain that which is worth having, it may be necessary to lose everything else.
Bernadette Devlin McAliskey


The pursuit of truth shall set you free — even if you never catch up with it.
Clarence Darrow

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