This mechanism, which would replace the ratification of changes to the constitution by a legislature subsequent to the one I proposed, is one of the major changes to the maximum law that will be introduced on September 15.
On Saturday afternoon, actually while playing the national football team, the press team of the Vice-President of the Republic distributed a statement showing some proposals to reform the constitution that the ad hoc team, led by Felix Ulloa, would do so. Present.
They also announced that “the first draft of constitutional reform proposals that will be put up for discussion by the academic, social and political sectors, through which the draft will be handed over to the President of the Republic, Najib Boukil, on September 15., this year, on the occasion of the bicentennial.”
Among the major reforms, it stands out to amend procedures to make changes to the constitution. Currently, when a constitutional reform is introduced, it must be approved by a simple majority by one legislature and must be ratified by the next assembly by a qualified majority. This team proposes to make changes to the maximum law through a referendum.
The statement issued by the group that was studying this referendum adds, “The teams analyzed the constitutional reform process stipulated in Article 248, in which they are studying the possibility of integrating the referendum as a mechanism to consult citizens to obtain its ratification.” the changes.
This is part of a broader initiative to “create the institutions of direct democracy” that includes a referendum, as well as a referendum and de-delegation.
Constitutionalist Enrique Anaya, with the advice of El Diario de Hoy, sees “only legally today a valid constitutional reform to implement the current regime”. By this, he makes it clear that these reforms to be introduced by the Executive on September 15 are still to be known by this legislature and ratified by the next assembly.
Acción Ciudadana’s Executive Director, Eduardo Escobar, also stressed that this new certification process would not apply to these reforms, but to subsequent reforms. If not, he says, “we will face another break with the constitutional order because they will unconstitutionally modify the reform process.” However, it may be considered “understandable because (according to the same method) the president can be re-elected”.
In the same sense, DTJ President Jose Marinero said, “Given the authoritarian nature of this government and its contempt for the Constitution and laws, we should not be surprised if (ratifying these changes by referendum) is the true intention, and to benefit from the still very high popularity to the president.”
What these jurists are making clear is that if the existing law is followed, then no reform proposed by the Ad Hoc Panel can be implemented during Najib Bukil’s presidency. That is, because the current legislature expires in 2024, and the next cycle (from 2024 to 2027) will be the one that must ratify any approved reform.
Concerns about the bottom
Beyond this consideration, Eduardo Escobar is of the opinion that they will subject constitutional reforms to “situational relations”, as they will depend on the popularity of the adopted measure. The current model, according to the jurist, seeks to provide an opportunity for the new legislature to correct any proposal to change the constitution. “People can reject any reform in the elections by giving power to other parties, it is a correction mechanism that will be eliminated,” says Acción Ciudadana director.
In his view, the advantage of representative democracy is that elected officials, who have greater political and technical training than the people they represent, can “modify the will of the majority”. Otherwise it warns, “sThey put the risk that the wishes of the population will be translated into reforms that may harm democracy and the basic rights themselves.”
According to Humberto Sainz, attorney and president of Acción Ciudadana, the ratification of constitutional reforms by referendum is worrisome due to the persistent misinformation that Salvadorans are exposed to, who do not have “sufficient elements to discuss and approve structural reforms”.
In addition, he warns, the country is witnessing “efforts that simply seek to consolidate power that is exercised in an authoritarian and arbitrary manner without sufficient knowledge of the consequences.”
Comptroller, Separation of Court Functions, Constitutional Court
Another pending proposal is to replace the Republic’s Court of Accounts with a State General Financial Comptroller, part of a chapter of the “Social Comptroller” that includes the Public Prosecutor’s Office for the Defense of Human Rights, the Government Ethics Court, the Institute for Public Information Access and the Consumer Advocate.
The team also proposed the creation of a Constitutional Court separate from the plenary session of the Supreme Court of Justice (CSJ), with it being considered part of the same incompatible institution.
In Sainz’s opinion, this initiative is totally unnecessary. In his view, unlike the lawyers associated with the Executive currently in the Constitutional Chamber, this entity has always operated with such court characteristics as those proposed by the Executive. “It is an unnecessary and simple reform and simply echoes complaints about the brakes involved in the proper exercise of constitutional power,” he criticizes.
Jose Marinero adds that “we already have a constitutional court and in this constitutional design it is called the Constitutional Chamber” and criticizes that “the statement does not make clear how the proposed court will differ from the existing or even if it will coexist.”
Beyond these doubts, the DTJ chief warns that “this government has not been concerned with checks on the president’s power, so it should be assumed that this reform is intended to ensure control, and submission, to the maximum interpreter of the Constitution over the president’s designs”.
He adds that the evidence for this is “the facts of the May 1 coup when he beheaded and usurped the constitutional circuit”, so he asserts that there is no room for giving this proposal the benefit of the doubt.
Finally, they announced that they would propose to separate the judicial functions of the Supreme Court of Justice from the administrative affairs of the judiciary. According to Vice President Felix Ulloa, who leads this ad hoc team, “the burden that has prevented a prompt, prompt and effective administration of justice (is) dedicating oneself to administrative tasks.”
According to Humberto Sáenz, this is an interesting suggestion worth discussing. And what the Vice-President announced yesterday, confirmed that “That’s the only thing I can agree on” and she admitted that without knowing the proposal in depth, “it’s worth analyzing.”
In the opinion of Sainz and Constitutional Enrique Anaya, the entire document announcing the proposals to be proposed by the ad hoc group is vague.