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Panama: ¿more lawyers?

Thursday, February 2, 2012

WHAT Panama’s main opposition parties are pushing hard for the creation of a constitutional court, which could restrain the power of the country’s executive.

WHY Some Panamanians are upset with the current president, Ricardo Martinelli, on the grounds that he tends to act impulsively and arbitrarily. His latest effort - interpreting the the constitution in a way that would make it easier for him to be reelected – has got his oppponents even angrier.

WHAT’S NEXT Martinelli has promised to veto any legislation, which leads to the creation of such a court. For its part, the coalition of opponents – mainly PRD and Panameñistas – vows that in such a case, it will seek a qualified majority (two thirds of lawmakers) to overturn the veto. Apart from the question of which side eventually wins the battle for votes, it is far from clear that an additional tribunal would help Panama become a better place. Costa Rica has long had a constitutional court, which may have restrained the use of improper presidential powers. On the other hand, Costa Rica’s experience in recent years is that almost every law passed by the legislature ends up being reviewed by the court, to the point at which the country’s legislative process has ground nearly to a standstill.

For more information, please contact Esteban Alvarez, at [email protected]