Thursday, July 30, 2009

Will Colombia's Congress Prevent Uribe from Seeking a Third Term?

Apparently, Alvaro Uribe's attempts to run for re-re-election may be hitting a snag. In order to run for re-re-election, Uribe would need Congress to pass a constitutional amendment making a third consecutive term legal. As this post puts it,

"the inter-cameral conference committee has failed to resolve differences in a bill that would have to pass before a referendum could be called on lifting the term limit. If the referendum is held, there is little doubt it will pass, and if Uribe then runs, there is little doubt he would win. The sticking point is thus congress, where Uribe has been backed by a large multiparty coalition since winning his first term in 2002."
However, that multiparty coalition may be falling apart. The Cambio Radical caucus has announced it will not support Uribe for a third term; in this, they join the Conservatives, who are also running their own (non-Uribe) candidate for president. As Steven points out, the Conservatives and the Cambio Radical coalition together hold 49 seats in the Chamber of Deputies and 33 seats in the Senate (out of 102), and at least the Cambio Radical have been a part of Uribe's coalition up until this point. Steven also points out that, those 30 Senate seats plus the 28 that the anti-Uribe Liberals have adds up to 61, "more than enough to put an end to any chances" that Uribe could even be re-re-elected.

All of this is not to say that Uribe is dead in the water. In light of this development, I wouldn't be surprised if Uribe delayed his "decision" until September so that he can lobby some of these Senators behind the scenes and not end up with pie in his face if he decides to seek a third term and then have Congress not give it to him. And Congress may work out the kinks in such a bill, though it continues to be at a stalemate right now. Still, it looks like there may actually be some legitimate hope that this effort to seek a third term is thwarted, and that would be a good thing for Colombia and for democratic institutions there (and elsewhere).