Bernal, Referendum on a constitutional process

Law professor Miguel Antonio Bernal getting beaten by dictatorship goons in 1979. He’s kept up the fight.

The Fifth Ballot

by Miguel Antonio Bernal V.

Years ago I wrote about the need for a fifth ballot in the elections to be held in 2014.

Since then, the lack of attention from citizen organizations and political parties to the proposal, far from discouraging me, has committed me to insisting on it given the continuous and growing deterioration of national events.

I still insist that it’s obligatory to find a political solution through a constituent process. Not to do so is to sponsor authoritarianism and, with it, the unbinding of what is left of the country.

It has been said in all possible forums, for more than three decades: A Constituent Assembly is urgently needed, a democratic, participatory and peaceful process, which is the solution and alternative that we must promote more and more each day in order to reach a true update to our social formation.

It is well known that a new social pact has never been viewed favorably by the power brokers. Neither for those of yesterday, nor for those of today. But this, far from intimidating us, should motivate us to seek and reach approaches to be able to open a constituent process in our Panama.

Last Tuesday, August 8th, a group of citizens committed to the fight for an originating constituent assembly went to the citizen participation offices of the legislature to present a bill for the inclusion of a fifth ballot for the elections to be held on May 5 of the coming year.

Given the electoral and electoral situation that is taking shape, we must raise this demand. On a fifth ballot citizens would be asked: “Do you agree with the call for a National Constituent Assembly?” Yes or no.

Let us remember that the fight for that fifth ballot was waged for the 2004 elections, but the tricks of the political parties and the Electoral Tribunal prevented it from coming to fruition.

We must also invite those who run as independents for elected positions, to do so under the slogan of the constituent assembly — with the public commitment that, if the fifth ballot is not reached, and if they are elected, they will fight tooth and nail for the convocation of a constituent assembly.


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