In the on again, off again saga of the proposed referendum to lift the current two-successive-terms limit on the Colombian presidency, a conference-committee report on the measure has passed the Senate. See Steven Taylor for some comments and puzzlement, with which I am in complete agreement: How did the proposal get through at this late date? Of the many parties in incumbent Alvaro Uribe’s congressional coalition–which had seemed moribund a few week ago–some have already announced presidential candidates, and yet some of those same parties’ senators apparently voted in favor.
Today, El Tiempo notes that the conference report does not face as easy a passage through the House of Representatives. An ongoing Supreme Court case against 86 House members (in a chamber of 163 representatives) regarding potentially illegal inducements they might have accepted, complicates passage in that chamber. (In a terrific irony, one of the members of the most ‘uribista’ parties in the House is named Roy Barreras [Barriers]; it might be better if he were an opposition member, however!)
The story on the House notes:
Germán Vargas Lleras, candidato presidencial de Cambio Radical dijo que miembros de su partido han sido abordados de manera individual y colectiva para inducirlos a votar a favor del referendo.
[Germán Vargas Lleras, Radical Change presidential candidate said that his party members have been approached individually and collectively, to induce them to vote for the referendum.]
Three of the 21 members of his House caucus sided with Uribe in a previous vote in December.
The proposal still must pass each house and then go to a referendum. However, as noted before, the only real obstacle is the congress–or, now, the House. (Perhaps the courts yet could be an obstacle, as well.) It would be a very big surprise if voters either rejected the referendum, or voted to oust Uribe if he is on the ballot next May.
In other Colombian election news, three former mayors of Bogotá (known as The Three Tenors) have established a new political force, Confianza, and will run in the congressional elections of March and the presidential election either on their own, or in affiliation with an existing party (potentially Verde Opción Centro).