When Alvaro Uribe was re-elected for the first time in 2006, the regulations on appointing positions in state institutions did not change. Seven and a half years after Uribe took office, the Presidency now has control over eight state institutions that should be functioning independently, a study shows.
Originally, when a President was allowed to serve only one term, the Presidency had influence in who to appoint as Prosecutor General and as Ombudsman.
Through his popularity and the weakening of existing institutions, the President was able to increase his influence in the National Electoral Council, the National Television Commission, the Ombudsman, the Disciplinary Chamber of the Superior Judicial Council, the Constitutional Court and the Central Bank, the researchers of the Center of Law, Justice and Society say.
Within the constitution of 1991 it is the majority in Congress that appoints people in State institutions, but through an exceptional dominance over his coalition in the Senate and House of Representatives, the lawmakers leave the appointment of these positions to the will of the President, says the report.
“Congress has ceased to be a significant institutional counterweight,” and became “a place for reaffirmation of the decisions taken by the Executive,” the critical report says. This imbalance would not be so serious if there was a reliable Congress, but with a quarter of the lawmakers linked to paramilitary death squads or other forms of severe corruption, the weakened coalition leans on the stronger-than-ever Presidency.
The investigators advise to not change the constitution and allow a third re-election, as it would further weaken independent State institutions and harm the balance of power for a long term. If Congress insists on a third term, it should implement measures to guarantee there will be no more concentration of power for the presidency and should work on different ways for the election of personnel in State institutions.
Uribe is currently fighting with the Supreme Court, who refuses to elect a new Prosecutor General from the Presidency’s shortlist and is waiting for the Constitutional Court to allow a referendum that would allow him to run for a thirs term in 2010.