(posted May 31, 6:00 p.m.)- The Sandinista supermajority in the National Assembly flexed its muscles again today by unilaterally approving into law President Daniel Ortega’s proposal to triple and quadruple the size of municipal governments from 2,178 city councilmen in 6,534. The exponential increase will take effect next year, forcing opposition political parties participating in this November’s municipal elections to scramble at the last minute to find thousands of more candidates.
The opposition claims the new law is a thinly veiled Sandinista plan to legalize the role of the CPCs (Sandinista Councils of Citizen Power) and thereby reduce the autonomy and political pluralism in municipal governments. The opposition voted against the municipal reform measure, but with the Sandinista supermajority, it passed by a vote of 62-24.
The Sandinistas claim the fattening of municipal governments will increase “direct democracy.” The opposition, however, says the new law makes no technical or mathematical sense, and is another example of the arbitrary rule by the presidential couple.
The Sandinistas have yet to clearly explain how the municipal beef-up will be funded. The opposition claims the new law will triple the operational costs of municipalities, which are already cash-strapped.
The opposition claims the whole project is buncombe.
“How is it possible that in Panama City, there are 21 city councilman and Managua is now going to have 80? How is it possible that San José, Costa Rica has 13 city councilman, San Salvador has 13, Bogota has 23, Asuncion, Paraguay has 24, and Managua has 80? Can anyone explain what reasoning or logic went into this increase in all the municipalities of the country?” demanded opposition congressman Armando Herrera.
Today’s vote marks the second time in two weeks that Sandinista lawmakers have voted unilaterally to approve an Ortega legal reform.
For more on the municipal reforms, click here.