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Monday, June 24 2019 @ 01:26 PM UTC

Billy Ford Says A Referendum to Change The Constitution Would Be A "Surprise"

Guillermo "Billy" Ford - Former Vice President of Panama
Former Vice President Guillermo Ford said it would be a "surprise" to the country, to consider the possibility of an attempt to modify the Constitution to allow for the reelection of the president or the extension of the term in office. He said it would be "premature" to talk about the possibility of a reelection or extension of the presidential period in office, considering that the Martinelli administration has only been in office a few months. "To me, as a politician and citizen, I don't like living in the surprises provided by the politicians, therefore the issue should be fully discussed with the whole of society," he said. He said that if a referendum were adopted it should guarantee "democratic stability." (Source: Panama America)

Editor's Comment: There are strong rumors running around saying that President Ricardo Martinelli is planning to push for a change to the Constitution of Panama that would allow for this immediate reelection. The last guy to try this was Ernesto Perez Balladares, who lost a referendum vote on the issue. Not surprising considering he was elected by only about 35% of the population. Perez Balladares was always much more popular in his own head than he ever was among the general population of the country. Martinelli, on the other hand, was elected by about 65% of the vote, the most ever for any Panamanian president in the post-dictatorship era. Martinelli had approval ratings of up to 80% just a couple of months ago, and recently those numbers have dropped back down to the high 60% to low 70% range. In order to change the Constitution the National Assembly must first approve the request in two consecutive years, and then the question would be put to a national vote. Therefore, if the National Assembly approved the issue tomorrow, the earliest we might see a national referendum would be towards the end of 2010 or early 2011 (or later). In order to pass, it would be a simple "Yes" or "No" vote, and it would need a simply majority of 50% (plus one vote.) If Martinelli intends to try this, it would be better to do it early in his administration rather than later.

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