Montes de María (2): What we saw and heard Reelection: vote expected tonight
Aug 252009

Today may be the most important day for Colombian President Álvaro Uribe’s bid to run for a third straight term in office. The lower house of the country’s Congress, the Chamber of Representatives, is to vote on legislation to hold a referendum this fall. In that vote, Colombians will decide whether to change their constitution – for the second time in four years – to allow Uribe to compete in the May 2010 presidential vote and remain in power for twelve straight years.

A month ago, after opposition figures took over the presidencies of Colombia’s House and Senate, most Colombian analysts were arguing that the re-election referendum was as good as dead. But late last week, some hard-nosed behind-the-scenes politicking convinced Colombia’s Senate to pass a bill.

This legislation, allowing a referendum for a third consecutive re-election, closely resembles what the Senate had already passed. The House, however, had months ago passed a bill interpreted only as allowing a referendum to give Uribe the right to run in 2014, leaving the Congress deadlocked.

It is not clear whether, when it votes tonight, the lower house will change its position and approve a referendum for 2010 reelection. The pro-reelection camp first needs a quorum: 84 of 166 representatives must be present for the vote. Those who do show up are almost certain to vote yes, with the rest boycotting to prevent the possibility of a quorum. (This is what happened in the Senate, when 58 of 102 senators reported for a 56-2 vote in favor of the referendum.)

Whether that 84-member threshold will be reached is the subject of feverish speculation in Colombia’s media. The pro-Uribe camp claims to have more than 85, or as many as 92 or 94 votes, already locked up. Opposition figures, meanwhile, are denouncing that legislators are being offered favors, or otherwise pressured, to vote “yes” to allow the referendum.

If the bill passes the House this evening, its next step is Colombia’s Constitutional Court, which must guarantee that the referendum law meets with several procedural and constitutional requirements (explained in a Flash animation, in Spanish, on the La Silla Vacía website).

The outlook is completely uncertain.

5 Responses to “Colombia’s House votes on reelection referendum”

  1. Chris Says:

    C’mon… you’re the EXPERT! You could have taken it a step further by giving us your most likely assessment on whether or not it would pass the house and then also pass the court.

  2. Adam Isacson Says:

    Flip a coin, my friend. There’s your prediction on both counts.

  3. Jaime Bustos Says:

    Well no need to flip a coin. Thousands of dollars are exchanging law makers hands as I write so without a doubt: It’s a sell out my friends. Chris and the court is also oiled up. ;)

  4. Plan Colombia and Beyond » Reelection: vote expected tonight Says:

    [...] the Center for International Policy Colombia’s House votes on reelection referendum Aug [...]

  5. allan Says:

    The worst thing is Uribe has not said he wants or does not want to run again. He has played it like a game. Soon he will loose support. Please help me understand, why does the USA gov not want him to run again?

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