Moves by the ruling party in the National Assembly to change the electoral system in defiance of an electoral reform commission s creating new tensions in Panama.
The National Commission on Electoral Reform, (CNRE) which was created to study the electoral law and put forward recommendations for changes, announced on the weekend that it will not attend the two day public discussion announced by the Government Commission of the National Assembly for August 16 and 17 promoted by the ruling Democratic Change (CD) party.
The Cimmission spent 12 months studying electoral reform, but the Assembly has allocated only two days to discuss the bill put forward by the CD
The presentation of the proposed electoral reforms promoted by the ruling Democratic Change (CD) before the full National Assembly promises to ignite the debate over whether or not to abrogate the discussion with only 21 months to go to the general elections of 2014 and a legislative body dominated by one party.
The deputy coordinator of the CNRE, Roberto Troncoso said on Saturday August 11, that the position of the forum is to not attend the discussion. He said the CNRE presented a reform package to the National Assembly in February 2011, but lawmakers "paid no attention …What we are looking at now is something tailored to suit their own agenda"
He said there will be fierce resistance to the proposed CD proposals since it would create greater tensions in Panama.
"Right now there is political warring, so we cannot go to a reform proposal that has not been provided by the CNRE” he said.
The CNRE consists of four pillars: private business, workers, NGOs and academics. Troncoso says the body has called an extraordinary session for Tuesday Aug 14 at the headquarters of the National Bar Association.
The coordinator of the Front for Democracy, Mariano Mena, has reiterated this Saturday the organization has the responsibility to reject the insistence of the CD Party amend the Electoral Code.
The Front for Democracy is composed of 34 groups, including associations, organizations and political parties.
And, for Mena the proposed electoral reforms of the ruling party only seeks to help defectors to re-election, among whom, he pointed out is the proponent of the controversial project, Abraham Martinez, who played for several years in the Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD) and is now part of the CD.
Mena added that the deputies of CD should keep their word and stop insisting on the discussion of the proposal.
The Electoral Reforms Commission on July 4 asked the Assembly for the withdrawal of the proposed electoral reforms, arguing that there is no climate for discussion and approval.
The application was submitted to the National Assembly on July 10 with a request that the document be discussed in 2015.
Troncoso said: "We prefer at this point not to touch it [the electoral reform package] because they [the deputies] are concentrated on the ballot sheet and other ideas that have nothing to do with the issues of transparency, which can lead to better days for the 2014 elections. "
The proposed electoral reforms introduced by the government deputy Abraham Martinez have 12 articles on four themes: removing the voting board, regulating independent presidential candidates, setting at six months the period of the political campaign and prevention of various partnerships to support candidates for deputies posts and mayors.