Bolivia: Government passes legislation on upcoming judicial elections

Posted on | juni 30, 2011 | No Comments

Regulations relating to the selection of candidates for judicial elections scheduled for 16 October have been passed by the Plurinational Legislative Assembly. The Electoral Law has also been amended to allow for greater coverage by the media in the run up to the elections.

During the elections, citizens will vote for magistrates to serve on the Supreme Court, the Plurinational Constitutional Tribunal, the Agro-environmental Tribunal and the Council of the Judiciary. President Morales stressed the unique nature of the October elections, reminding the Bolivian people that these were not the same as going to the polls to select deputies or presidents who ‘promise heaven and earth’. Instead the people will have an enormous responsibility in voting for the authorities who will apply norms and ‘do justice’.

There were heated parliamentary debates about the qualifications that candidates should hold to be eligible for election. MAS deputies stressed the need for equality of opportunity, with Vice-President García Linera arguing that ‘the vast majority of the population do not have the resources to do a masters degree or a doctorate’. The UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights had earlier pointed out the importance of ‘clear and objective criteria for grading the merits and professional competency of the candidates’. However, the regulations now stress that experience will be given more weight than academic qualifications.

In addition to the regulations on selecting candidates, both the president and the Electoral Court had called on the assembly to amend Article 82 of the Electoral Law in order to relax the rules on media coverage, with Morales arguing that: ‘Our obligation is to guarantee freedom of expression, information, of participation’. The modified article now allows candidates to be interviewed by the media, but any interviews will be monitored by the Electoral Court. Campaigning by the candidates will not be permitted.

AUTHOR: Bolivia Information Forum
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