Bolivian Constitution

Government type: Republic of Bolivia*

Country name: Republic of Bolivia (shortened locally to Bolivia) * Evo Morales’ government in Bolivia is now calling the country the “Plurinational State of Bolivia”.

The Bolivian Constitution: President Evo Morales and his political party the M.A.S. (Movement Toward Socialism) drafted a new constitution which was highly debated and negotiated until finally in October of 2008 the text was agreed upon in Congress, although some who opposed it believe it was agreed upon under duress as thousands of M.A.S. party supporters surrounded Congress to force a decision. Congress members were unable to leave and were forced to sleep in the building for several days. Approximately 60% of Bolivia’s citizens voted to approve the new constitution during a national referendum on 25 January 2009 after months of dispute.

 

The 1967 constitution (revised in 1994) provides for balances to three-way power between the executive, legislative and judiciary branches of government. However, the executive branch wields significant power while Congress generally debates and approves legislation the executive initiates. The judiciary branch is comprised of the Supreme Court and lower departmental courts. The judicial system and processes were reformed with the 1994 revision of the constitution.

In August 2006 Bolivia held its first “Constituent Assembly” since 1938 with the intent to revise and reform the Constitution once more. Despite the purpose of holding a constituent assembly, President Evo Morales nominated his indigenous followers to head this revision, which took place inside an army barracks while opposition Congress members were locked out and unable to participate. This led to disputes which Morales’ government squelched, resulting in several deaths. The Bolivian government pushed forward with revisions despite opposition from a large portion of the population and in 2009 Bolivians voted on to approve the new Bolivian constitution.