Colombian President Alvaro Uribe’s aspirations to trash constitutional term limits and win a third consecutive term in office suffered a setback in the Supreme Constitutional Court yesterday. The judge in charge of preliminary analysis recommended that the court rule against holding a national referendum to eliminate term limits.
La Silla Vacía reports that the judge – Humberto Sierra Porto – made his recommendation strictly on procedural grounds, not on the merits, though this is impossible to verify since the document has not been made public. La Silla Vacía says the recommendation is not binding, but according to Semana a majority of the court would have to vote against it to change it. In any case, the full court has 60 days to issue a final ruling, though it has indicated that it will not take the full 60 days.
Uribe is up against the calender. The presidential elections are scheduled for May 30, and his party has yet to put forward a candidate. One assumes they’re crossing their fingers hoping for a favorable ruling from the Constitutional Court, but even if the Constitutional Court expedites its ruling, it’s not clear there would be enough time to hold a referendum before the elections.
Semana says the referendum is basically Uribe’s last chance for a third consecutive term, since by this point a constitutional amendment and a majority null vote are out of the question. Besides that, his party still has to put up a candidate, and the longer they wait, the more difficult it will be to win on May 30.