Colombia’s House of Representatives on Monday surprisingly voted to hold off the 2019 local elections until national elections are held in 2022.
The constitutional amendment seeks to end the separation of the elections and was approved by 24 of 32 members of the senatorial 1st Commission.
Constitutional amendment a “coup”
According to former Vice-President Humberto de la Calle, one of the authors of the 1991 constitution, the vote constitutes a “coup” and will drastically reduce regional autonomy.
According to De la Calle, the constitution purposely separated the terms of the national and local elections to avoid local elections be dominated by the political agenda of national political forces.
“What the 1991 constitution sought was to avoid the locomotive effect of the political elite that ends up pulling the wagons, suffocating regional independence,” De la Calle said on Twitter.
The former VP’s own party, the Liberal Party, voted in favor of the bill that will have to pass a total of eight voting rounds in the Senate and the House of Representatives, and be ratified by the Constitutional Court.
Parties that voted in favor of the constitutional amendment
- U Party
- Radical Change
- Conservative Party
- Democratic Center
- Liberal Party
And the criticism continues
Opposition Senator Angelica Lozano of the centrist Green Alliance party rejected the initiative, claiming the initiative serves the interests of the corruption-ridden political parties rather than advance democracy.
“If you help me in court, I will help you to extend terms,” Lozano claimed to have overheard in Congress.
The bill to extend periods is so crude, abusive and unconstitutional that I have no doubt that it will be approved by Congress.
columnist Daniel Samper
Bogota district Mayor Juan Carlos Florez called the constitutional amendment “pure authoritarianism” and said he would resign in 2019, claiming this was the term granted to him by his electorate.
How are we going to criticize the dictatorship of [Venezuelan President Nicolas] Maduro if it is imitated here?
Bogota district Mayor Juan Carlos Florez
Colombia Reports could not immediately find the reaction of lawmakers who would publicly defend the controversial bill.