Monday, March 14 2011 @ 08:55 PM UTC
Contributed by: Don Winner
Topics - On December 29, 2010, just before the New Year's holidays, the Government in a press release reported their intentions to change the Constitution, which at that time they called an "evaluation." The themes mentioned at that time were: the possibility of reducing from 10 years to five (5) years the possibility for presidential reelection, establish in Panama a second round of national elections (in case a candidate does not win a clear majority in the first round), include the nationwide election of deputies to the National Assembly, the election of governors by direct popular vote, and the approval of the extradition of Panamanian nationals who are linked to acts of terrorism, drug trafficking and murder. In addition, the President had indicated they would consider the incorporation of two new government programs - the universal scholarships and the "$100 for 70" program that benefits the adults over age 70 who have not received any pension or retirement. Two and a half months later, the Government seems to be meticulous about these issues. On this occasion there was no mention of any of these plans, and they said the entire Constitution would be open to review. "The President said that, at present, the issues and targets for reform have not been fully defined, and he said there would be a comprehensive review of the constitution," said the Presidency on Monday 14 March.
Who is Antinori? - The first Ombudsman of Panama was Dr. Antinori Bolaños, chosen by the Deputies of the National Assembly on 27 June 1997, a leading Panamanian lawyer whose term expired on March 31, 2001. In the former Legislative Assembly, he received 49 votes of the 69 deputies who voted, an absolute majority. Antinori's mission would be complicated by opposition (PRD) deputies, if the government realizes his plan on the issue of reelection, president Martinelli could run again for president in the 2019 elections, after having completed 5 years on the sidelines after the 2014 elections. (La Estrella)
Ítalo Antinori Bolaños will lead the consultations on the efforts to reform the Constitution of the Republic of Panama - 14 March 2011
Editor's Comment: If these reforms to the constitution go through then the PRD will probably never rule Panama again from the presidency, or at least not within the current political realities. First of all, by reducing the sideline period from ten years to five, then a team like Martinelli's Cambio Democratico political party and Juan Carlos Varela's Panameñista party could basically take turns in office - five years for you, five years for me, repeat. The PRD has never (ever) won the presidency in the post dictatorship era with more than 50% of the vote - Ernesto Perez Balladares won with about 37% and Martin Torrijos with about 47% - and both of then would have been soundly defeated in a second round of voting between just them and only one other non-PRD candidate. In short, the PRD only wins when the opposition is deeply divided and their votes are thinly spread among several candidates. So, the concept of a second round of voting would be a virtual death-knell for the PRD. Right now the Deputies to the National Assembly are elected by votes in each local region, not by a nationwide vote. Right now the president appoints the Governors so an election would seem to be much more democratic. And finally there's the "Pedro Miguel Gonzalez" clause that would allow him to be extradited to the United States as a fugitive terrorist, wanted for the assassination of US Army Sergeant Zak Hernandez.