Thursday, June 30, 2011

(Not) Talking Constituyente

The AFP, in an article entitled "President of Honduras to convoke dialogue on a National Constituent Assembly", reported today that Porfirio Lobo Sosa will begin on July 9 a series of dialogues across the country to talk with various sectors about constitutional reform.

The AFP's headline is somewhat misleading: Lobo Sosa will not be calling for a Constituyente.

What he says he will do is quite a bit different:
"After they tell us the reforms, we will translate them into proposals for the National Congress to do what is normal in Congress, to analyze, discuss, generate consensus, and reform laws or approve new laws....I will advance the discussion of reforms because we can't sit around waiting for a Constituyente to be approved."

So pretty clearly, no Constituyente; no popular debate about fundamental reorientation of the political system and codification of rights of women and minorities; just constitutional reform as business-as-usual, perpetuating existing power relations.

That doesn't merit the headline of the AFP, or the promotion the same misinformation is getting now in venues like the AP.

Lobo Sosa won't be proposing anything himself; he'll just be listening.

Historically, Lobo Sosa has used dialogues like this to cull ideas for legislation, meeting with the obvious interest groups to which he and the National Party are oriented, not, for example, the FNRP or campesino groups.

The groups presenting ideas in the present dialogues will come from recognized sectors of society (e.g. business associations, the churches, the UCD, the political parties), each in its own separate dialogue with Lobo Sosa.

The participants will be limited to invited interest groups, and if you don't fall into one of those groups you will be voiceless in this process.

So, the key will be seeing who is invited to talk to Lobo Sosa. Will the FNRP get a hearing? How on earth could Lobo Sosa think he can accommodate what the Frente is calling for within the existing government processes?


boz said...

Are there aspects of the Frente's platform that could be passed through the existing process without a Constituyente? If the FARP were to win a significant portion of seats in the next congressional elections, what will their legislative agenda look like?

RNS said...

FARP is not yet organized, so there's nothing to say about what it might or might not propose to do. First it needs to become organized, draft a charter, and be recognized as a party. Those discussions are private.

I'm sure that Lobo Sosa believes that there will be proposals made by the Frente that could be considered in isolation as possible proposals by his government. In practice that assumes that the Frente will talk to him (they consider him illegitimate) and that piecemeal changes to a bad constitution will move things forward with respect to popular democratic participation.

Even if Lobo Sosa were to put forward a large part of the Frente's suggestions for reform, it still must pass this Congress, which is more than willing to set itself up as an obstacle to any meaningful change (see next posting).

Its hard to see how that would work and satisfy any of the demands of the Frente overall.

Again, Lobo Sosa will only speak with organizations, not people. People who are not part of recognized national organizations are voiceless in this process. That's most of the population.

Watch for a post in the next few days on the evolving political thought within the Frente.