The gas referendum's slow pace
bolivia | by Miguel Centellas | 03 Mar, 2004 at 12:35 PM | comments (0) | trackback (0)

Tentatively scheduled for 28 March, the gas referendum may be postponed because parliament's not yet ratified the necessary law. President Mesa only sent the law to parliament on Friday. The National Electoral Court (CNE) warned that it needs at least 90 days from the date of the law's approval to successfully run a referendum. CNE's report also announced the referendum would cost Bs.30 million (approx. $3.8 million).

The reasons for the delay are mostly bureaucratic necessities. The voter registry must be updated 25 days before the vote, while citizens need at least 40 days to register. A lottery to select table judges would take place 75 days after the referendum law passes. CNE also warned that a legitimate referendum requires enough time for a national information campaign.

Nevertheless, the basic outline of the referendum — though not the question(s) wording — is now known. The referendum will require a nation-wide simple majority to pass. In contrast, Goni's proposed referendum required a department-by-department vote — w/ the expectation that five of nine departments (the "media luna" of Santa Cruz, Tarija, Beni, Pando, and Chuquisaca) would vote to export the natural gas.

If parliament approves the referendum law this week, the gas referendum could be scheduled for sometime mid-June.

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"President Mesa finally announced the questions for the gas referendum. And although there are five of them, they seem rather vague & almost destined to win a "yes" vote by their very wording (which, I'm sure, was the point). But. Despite that, the questions are unclear as to what they..."
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