Saturday, October 20, 2007

The Problem with Blogs Is That You Have to Post to the Damn Things

.... And that's most definitely what I haven't done these last six weeks or so. I've been setting up a new business in Quito and man, this one has taken much more time than the last one I did. Still, it's been a real learning experience in many ways, and I expect to use those experiences in doing still another activity which my girl friend has suggested.

Anyway, where was I? Oh yes, Ecuador, what's been happening, what's been going on?

Well, the Constituent Assembly elections took place almost three weeks ago and it's clear that Correa and his allies have won a large majority of the 130 seats in the Assembly. I phrase it as "large majority" (I'm guessing close to 80 seats) because we still don't have the final results in from all 22 provinces on the September 30 vote. Guayas, the largest province has been extremely slow, as usual, in getting its results in, but slowness notwithstanding, there's no doubt that Correa's group, Alianza Pais and their allies (known in a loose coalition as Acuerdo Pais) will have full control of the Assembly.

The big losers in all of this have been the traditional political parties. Together, the Social Christians (PSC), Alvaro Noboa's party (PRIAN), Lucio Gutierrez's party (PSP), Abdula Bucaram's party (PRE), and Rodrigo Borja's party (ID) may have won around 25-30 seats in the CA.

Correa et al have called for the dissolution of the current Congress once the CA goes into session (sometime in late November I'd guess, depending on when the final voting results are published). They argue that the Congress, composed primarily of the traditional parties, is simply a nest of corrupt reps of the "partidocracia" and as such, it should be done away with.

I and much of the country here agree that Congress is an ineffective entity controlled by political leaders such as Noboa and Gutierrez. There are exceptions to the corrupt/politically controlled paradigm such as Patchakutik and the Union Democratica Cristiana, but they're in the minority, and lately, they've been perceived as falling in line with the "trads" (as I'll call them), a trend which simply lends credence to critics of Congress, especially Correa and his allies.

To the question: Can/should Congress be dissolved when the Constituent Assembly convenes? I'd say the answer is clearly no. The statute establishing the CA mechanism clearly says that any actions taken/work done by the CA must be approved by a pleibescite before, repeat, before, they become law (or Constitutional, if you will). That means that all existing governmental insitutions will (or should, anyway) continue to exist until Ecuador approves the CA's work. (Crazy thought: has anyone considered the possibility that the people may NOT approve the CA's product?)

On a related theme, Alberto Acosta, an Alianza Pais leader and most voted CA Asemblista (and therefore, the almost certain President of the CA) has said that he thinks that, besides the Congress, certain other institutions (or heads of institutions) should be removed along with the Congress. Interestingly, Acosta has singled out the Supreme Court (probably the best qualified, most apolitical group of all) and the Solicitor General (a lackluster individual selected by the trads, but approved by Correa), but not/not the Constitutional Tribunal (packed with Correa sympathizers), the Supreme Electoral Tribunal (ditto), or the Attorney General (selected by Correa but approved by Congress).

Aside from the obvious partisanship of Acosta's comments, the same principle applies in any case: None of the aforementioned entities (or individuals) should be removed until the people have had a chance to see what the CA intends to do in terms of restructuring governmental institutions.

Notwithstanding the validity of criticisms leveled, the motivation of Correa, Acosta, et al, in calling for the removal of certain entities/individuals is obvious. They view these groups as potentially troublesome opponents who might cause trouble regarding certain proposals that could come out of the CA process, and they want them out of the way.

Correa y cia have maintained that the CA has plenipotentiary powers, which would give them the right to do anything they want. They have 80 out of 130 votes in the CA (which has a simple majority vote rule) so they can do anything they want in the CA. The only things or persons who might still check or control them are the groups mentioned above. For that reason I think they should stay, and indeed, have the Constitutional right to stay.