Saturday, June 28, 2024
By Steven L. Taylor

To answer at least part of the question I asked about Uribe’s suggestion for a redo of the 2024 election, it appears that the goal is not to extend his term. Via El Tiempo: Repetición de elecciones presidenciales serían sólo para validar mandato de Uribe hasta 2024 (“Election Repeat Would be only to validate Uribe’s Term until 2024″).

Así lo explicaron asesores del mandatario, ante la confusión que generó la propuesta de éste de llamar a referendo para despejar dudas sobre la legitimidad de su período 2024-2010.


So explained advisers to the president in response to the confusion generated by the proposal for a referendum to to dispel doubts about the legitimacy of the 2024 elections.

The article goes on to state that he is not seeking to extend his term with this proposal and it is solely in response to the questions about the legitimacy of the amendment that allowed re-election by the Supreme Court of Justice.1

The line of the article is this:

La propuesta del Presidente, de proponer una ley para convocar un referendo, en el que a su vez los colombianos decidan si se repiten las elecciones del 2024, planteó más preguntas que respuestas


The president’s proposal [to hold the referendum] raises more questions than answers.

No kidding.

Indeed, Greg Weeks asks several, which include the following:

–If this goes through, would congressional elections also be repeated? This is what the president of the Congress suggests

I have no answer, but it prompts me to say: what a mess that would create. I suppose as one who studies Colombian elections I should applaud the chance to add to the number of elections I have to study. In all seriousness, however, this hardly seems a healthy route for Colombian institutions. There is no doubt that Uribe would win a confirming referendum, but electing a new Congress? What a mess.

–Does such a referendum have a legal basis?

Currently, there is no provision in Colombia law for a “redo.” However, what Uribe wants is a constitutional amendment to allow this action. Article 378 of the Colombian Constitution allows for the government to propose to the Congress an amendment in the form of a referendum which has to be approved by both chambers of Congress.2 The results of the referendum (if they approve the measure) are valid only if 25% of the electorate participate in the election. While this may seem like a low threshold, there was a package of reforms put to the voters in Uribe’s first term that largely failed to pass based on low turn-out.

–Even if it does, is it worth all the money, hassle, and confusion?3

I personally cannot see any justification for it. Not only would it be a waste of money, but it strikes me as an incredible perversion of the constitution to go about amending it for such a specific issue just because the President is angry at the Supreme Court of Justice.

–Finally, why does he make such a declaration at midnight? He needs a vacation.


Governing by fit of pique isn’t a good idea, let’s say.

  1. Specifically with the Sala Penal. []
  2. This is not, by the way, the only way to amend the constitution. []
  3. Yes, likely a rhetoric question, but since when has that ever stopped an academic? Or, for that matter, a blogger? And Katy bar the door for a bloggin’ academic. []
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4 Responses to “More Uribe”

  • el
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    1. Greg Weeks Says:

      The other question that comes to mind is that the Supreme Court is questioning the legality of the 2024 election, not the outcome, so how does a new outcome affect the original question of legality? A more fitting vote would be for Congress to address the question of re-election.

    2. Dr. Steven Taylor Says:

      Indeed–this thought occurred to me as well. Basically it seems to me that it is Uribe trying to pull a populist move to show that “the people” are on his side, and that the other institutions need to beware. This is new phenomenon in Colombian politics (at least to this degree since the Rojas
      coup in 1953).

      I haven’t read the Court’s ruling, so it is unclear to me exactly what they are challenging, but I think you are correct–that it is about the re-election amendment not the election itself.

    3. MSS Says:

      Of course, that package of reforms that Uribe had proposed was largely moot by the time the referendum came. The most important reforms had already been passed by congress (against Uribe’s will, I might add, because it did not include some provisions he wanted).

      There is no good reason to repeat the congressional elections, even if one accepts Uribe’s premise (which I most certainly do not). Their constitutionality is not at issue. They were held under the reformed electoral law (referred to in my first paragraph), which was completely separate from the presidential-reelection measure.

      The bigger issue here is that the Supreme Court really made a terrible decision, politically (I have no opinion on its validity constitutionally/legally). Some things really can’t be admissible after the fact. The time for bringing charges against an amendment permitting reelection is before said reelection goes forward. Now it is a done deal, and the Court saying otherwise is simply handing a popular president a political issue to hammer the opposition with further. Pretty much totally contradictory (politically) to the (constitutional) issue the Court was judging.

    4. Fruits and Votes » Prof. Shugart's Blog » What is Uribe up to? (Part II) Says:

      [...] time to say much here, so I will lean on Steven Taylor (again), who has a good entry yesterday on Uribe’s plan for a “revote” of his own reelection. The matter came to a head after a Supreme Court ruling invalidating the constitutional amendment [...]

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