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June 12, 2013


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I'm blushing; I never expected to spark a whole new post! Thank you! And this does answer my question, except for one thing: are the Congressional Boards of Directors not allowed to serve in those posts consecutively? That affects everything about the secret ballot.

The link you gave to the Constitution doesn't seem to mention the Boards of Directors at all (either that or I don't know how to use the find function on my computer). But I assume this is a matter of procedural tradition rather than the Constitution (is that right?)

I'm definitely interested in all that is not well. If I understand right, the main problem is that only "uncontroversial motherhood issues" can usually pass?

You are right about the Board of Directors. Like the filibuster or the Speaker in the U.S., they are part of Congress's internal procedural rules and not the constitution.

The Board of Directors cannot be re-elected during the same four-year congressional term. (The Senate describes the Boards here: http://www.senado.gov.co/el-senado/mesa-directiva .)

It's not entirely clear to me that there is a problem with Congress ... but it is true that it is really hard to pass bills that are introduced by congresspeople rather than the president. In a sense, the Colombian congress operates more like a parliament than a U.S.-style congress, at least in terms of legislative procedure. The amazing thing is that the country's institutions have produced this result despite a weak and divided party structure.

A lot of talk of the problems with the American system is the gridlock it produces. If the goal in Colombia is to make it easy to pass legislation...

...then why didn't they start with a British-style system where the PM is an "elected dictator"? Unless that wasn't the goal, of course.

History, mostly. Colombia (like all Latin American countries) has been under presidential constitutions since independence. A parliamentary system is a strange and not-quite-legitimate animal in this hemisphere.

There is a second reason, but it isn't the real reason. For a divided parliamentary system to work, you need politicians who know how to form coalitions and electorates who are prepared to vote in snap elections. These skills are not natural and one can imagine a parliamentary system going spectacularly wrong.

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