What paths are ahead for the Government?

What paths are ahead for the Government?
What paths are ahead for the Government?

08:00 AM

The puff that implied the arrival of Juan Fernando Christ al Ministry of Interior It didn’t even last a day. Weeks ago, in the middle of the erratic messages about one National Constituent Assembly and even the re-election of President Gustavo Petro, He was one of the first to lay down his voice of protest and express their strong opposition.

Hence, for the political country his arrival – confirmed by Petro himself this Wednesday –, It was a relief and sent a message in the midst of the secrecy. However, it took only a few hours between the announcement of his appointment and An unusual speech from the Palace so that Christ would surprise with statements that raised dust again and light up the constituent choir.

Contrary to what he was preaching weeks ago, the The new minister of politics confirmed that the Government –under his baton– he will indeed seek specify the call for a process to overturn the Magna Carta of 1991. The above, through a series of dialogues with different political sectors that will start next week.

“It is a national agreement that may or may not eventually – and that will emerge from the talks – end in a Constituent Assembly. It would be a process that begins now and that If we reach a political agreement, the next Government would be elected, “Not in this one,” Christ said.

Although the incoming minister wanted calm the waters by assuring that everything will depend on the dialogues with different sectors and that, in any case, the Constituent Assembly would not materialize in this Government, The confirmation added fuel to the fire of an issue that had been on ice for several weeks.

It was of no use, even, that Christ assured that the call would be made under the parameters of the 1991 Constitution, “that is to say, that it is the result of a national agreement and not the imposition of someone.”

The above, given the distrust that is already generated in the political sectors by the change of position of the now minister, who just last May He was firmly against a Constituent Assembly. “The Constituent Assembly is unviable. Reelection is impossible,” Cristo said in a tweet last May, in which he warned that “It was a disaster to ignore the Constitution before. It is a disaster now too.”

Even in March, the now minister assured that Calling a Constituent Assembly was “a bad idea,” while insisting that it was “unfeasible” given that the Government was “far from having the majority that are needed in Congress to approve a law that calls for this Constituent Assembly.” Therefore, advocated agreement.

“Which of the two Juan Fernando Cristos do we believe?“, questioned the senator from the opposition Maria Fernanda Cabal (Democratic Center). “At breakfast we know what lunch will be like. Without taking possession, he already gets up on the left foot. “Don’t count on me and I hope not on the Conservative Party either,” said Senator Germán Blanco.

In response to the wave of criticism, Christ shared a column from early May andn which, although he confirmed that “it is not the time to talk about a National Constituent Assembly”, He did not rule out “in the future” the idea of ​​building a national agreement which could “eventually” include a call for the process. “I said it then: Any idea of ​​a Constituent Assembly must be the result of a national agreement and be processed by Congress. We will begin dialogues with all sectors in search of consensus that can be achieved for the next presidential period”the minister said on Wednesday.

Early campaign?

For the teacher Luis Guillermo Guerrero, who was an advisor in the National Constituent Assembly of 1991, Christ’s statements corroborate –in a pragmatic way– that “It is one thing to be outside the government and another to be in the government.”

According to the constitutionalist, although Christ remains in his position that a Constituent Assembly is unfeasible At this time, he argues that “It is possible to call for a national dialogue now to decide whether or not to convene a National Assembly and, if so, to do so. issues that he would have to deal with.”

However, he warned that this so-called dialogue in search of a national agreement It would not be convenient considering that the idea of ​​the constituent process is still “fizzy”. He also said that there is no environment “around the identification of issues that merit a process as complex as that of a Constituent Assembly.”

In turn, the director of the Electoral Observation Mission (MOE), Alejandra Barrios, He said that the exploration process that could end in the Constituent Assembly marks the course of what There will be early elections with a view to 2026. “Starting the pre-election period, at the latest in March of next year, It would be an agenda item that this Government would leave for discussion by the candidates for President and Congress.“We are talking about a process that takes a very long time and will surely not happen under this Government,” he said.

The truth today is that, even without having been appointed and with a view to the second half of the mandate of the president, Minister Cristo arrives at the portfolio with a noise that does not stop generating anguish and anxiety among those who believe that there will be no valid agreement and that Petro would be seeking to remain in power beyond the constitutional period for which he was elected. “Colombia does not need constituents or attempts at dictators who want to perpetuate themselves in power. What Petro seeks to do with our democracy It is a mockery”, stated Representative Jose Jaime Uscátegui.

In the midst of the debate over a constituent assembly, Christ is also called to lead the Government’s reform agenda and maintain a good relationship with Congress in which – unlike what happened when he was Minister of the Interior in the Government of Juan Manuel Santos (between 2014 and 2017)–, does not have broad majorities.

“A complex legislature is coming and the processing of claims of unconstitutionality against the Government’s only legislative achievement, which is the pension system. To ‘cope’ with these situations, the arrival of Christ is understood from the need for arrange and look for some management“, concluded Professor Carlos Prieto, lawyer and political scientist from the Javeriana University.

As if that were not enough, Christ had already set himself two other parallel challenges. On the one hand, “deepen territorial autonomy” and, on the other hand, contribute to advancing a matter of his entire nature: consolidate the implementation of the Peace Agreement. Will the new minister be able to face such challenges in the midst of the Constituent buzz?

Divided opinions from Congress

Carlos Fernando Motoa/Senator of Radical Change

“Who would have the idea of ​​calling a Constituent Assembly that would be delayed for two or three years, and that would only take office when the new president and the next Congress are elected? This is not appropriate!”

Paloma Valencia Laserna/Senator of the Democratic Center

“President Petro is desperate to hold the Constituent Assembly as quickly as possible. He will be looking for states of exception (…) The president has been talking about a Constituent Assembly and the new minister Cristo confirms it.”

Iván Cepeda Castro/Senator of the Historic Pact

“Christ’s appointment opens up the opportunity to materialize a national agreement. Whatever political figure is adopted to endorse or validate these initiatives, it must count on the support of all political, social and economic forces.”

What does the Constitution say about a Constituent Assembly?
1. The constituent assembly must be approved by Congress with absolute majorities.
2. Once approved, the President will submit the law for review by the Constitutional Court.
3. It will be approved if a third of the electoral roll votes yes (12.9 million people).
4. Subsequently, the constituents would be elected and the Assembly would deliberate.

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