Congress approves new law banning presidential re-election, backtracks on mandatory voting
SIX MONTHS after President Juan Manuel Santos’ re-election, last week Colombia’s Senate approved a measure that eliminates the possibility for sitting presidents to run for re-election.
The bill was passed unanimously, with a vote of 52-0, El Espectador reported.
In a related development, lawmakers shot down a previously-approved bill that would have made voting in local, departmental and national elections mandatory for all eligible voters, local media reported.
The banning of presidents from running for re-election and the mandatory voting bill are part of a package of so-called “balance of power” reforms currently being debated in congress.
The reforms, which President Santos gave priority to almost immediately after his re-election in March, are ostensibly aimed at clearly separating government powers and strengthening the democratic process – though many wonder how one-term presidents can be held accountable for their actions.
Doing away with re-election is a reversal of a Constitutional amendment ratified during the administration of ex-president Alvaro Uribe in 2004 that allowed sitting presidents to run for a second term in office. Soon after the amendment, Uribe was re-elected president
The ‘balance of power’ reforms are to be debated in congress six more times before they are finally ratified, according to local media.
See our opinion piece on constitutional reform here.
By Mark Kennedy