The Wished-For Technical Draw in
Raul Zibechi, La Jornada
The recent elections for the Constituent Assembly mark the end of the political transition in
It's true as Evo pointed out that from various perspectives the elections of July 2nd represent an important triumph for his government. They consolidate the social majority that it obtained in the presidential elections of last December, going from 54% to almost 60% of the votes. It wins an absolute majority in the Constituent Assembly with 134 of the 255 assembly members. And it makes impossible approval of the autonomy project promoted by the separatist right of the eastern region (particularly
But contradictory as it may seem, the elections for the Constituent Assembly have turned into an example of the difficulties of bringing about fundamental change. The limitations derive from the law that called the Assembly and affect as much the possibility of changing the institutional scaffolding as changes in the dominant political culture, anchored to representation via political parties. Article 25 of the law establishes that two thirds of the assembly members are required to be able to approve new articles in the Constitution. MAS is a long way off the 170 votes necessary and with only 134 elected representatives will have to make important concessions to the Right. The most likely result is a number of minor changes while decisive matters remain unchanged.
Secondly, the way the Constituent Assembly was called consolidated the party system. The Convocatory Law of the Constituent Assembly only permitted the presentation of candidates from political parties or from official groups and made it difficult for direct participation of indigenous peoples movements that could only do so via MAS, which calls into doubt their autonomy. Judging from other recent experiences in
But the new moment - a moment dominated by the limits encountered by change - has not fallen from the sky. It was a political and ideological construction driven by a reading of reality that spoke of a "disastrous stand off", then a cycle of stuggles over five years that broke up the neo-liberal project in
What reading of reality is it that emphasises a "disastrous stand off"? From what place is reality viewed so as to reach that conclusion? The very concept alludes to a motionless, bogged down situation and implies a view from above. However, that has not been the reality of
The five impressive years that put the Bolivian popular movement in the centre of the political scene were born in a moment of triumph for the neo-liberal model and a deep defensiveness and dispersal of the popular movements. By the middle of 2005, these had managed to break up all the strategies of the elites and go on for more. From that moment on, the temptation of government - that had already caused damaging divisions to the popular movements during the government of Carlos Mesa - imposed a new agenda. To justify that U-turn, the argument of a "disastrous stand-off" fits like a glove.
The moment of insurrection gave way to the moment of institutionality. And with it deals with the right were added to the demobilization, embodied in the law to call the Constituent Assembly, which in fact, hands a power of veto to the Right. One of life's ironies, the power of veto used by the aymara and quechua to impede the projects of the ruling elite, passes now to the hands of their enemies. Vice-President Alvaro Garcia Linera sounds over-optimistic saying "the Constituent Assembly is going to mend inherited fractures, tensions and divisions" and that the new Constitution will resolve the colonial divisions handed down from 500 years ago. It seems that only a new cycle of struggles like the one recently concluded can break this stand-off put together as a short-cut to get into government.
Translated from Spanish into English by toni solo, a member of Tlaxcala