The front page of the Report presented in the article.
12 November 2007
Bolivia is facing a critical moment in its democratization process.
In view of this situation, the Congress agreed, last July, to extend the deadline for the Constituent Assembly to 14 December 2007. If disagreements persist, the Congress determined that the resolution of controversial topics should be decided by the people through a national referendum.
With UNDEF support, International IDEA and UNDP are currently implementing
a one-year initiative supporting the Constituent Assembly both in terms
of process and outcome.
An important contribution of the project has been the publication and distribution of a Report entitled “The State of Public Opinion: Bolivians, the Constitution and the Constituent Assembly” which provides politicians and supporters of the current constitutional process with a useful tool of advocacy aimed at building consensus within the Constituent Assembly.
The President of the Constituent Assembly, Mrs Silvia Lazarte, giving the opening address to an international workshop organized on "political systems of representation .
The study is based on a series of eight national public opinion surveys that were carried out from June 2006 to August 2007, and also includes the results of in depth interviews conducted with a sample of 255 persons.
This innovative Report fulfils a three-fold purpose in support of the constitutional process:
First, the Report emphasizes that support for democracy, as expressed
by public opinion polls, has substantially increased in Bolivia since
Second, the Report reflects the perceptions of Bolivian citizens on fundamental issues to be addressed, such as rule of law, the Constitution and the Constituent Assembly, natural resources management, national unity, decentralization as well as indigenous peoples rights. Bolivians hope for profound changes in the Constitution and the laws, since they perceive that the existing ones to be unfairly in favor of the more powerful elements in society. Today, Bolivians want a Constitution that will unify the country. “We want new laws that are fair-minded and above all a Constitution that will be enforced and will have a real impact on our lives”, states one of the testimonies collected by the Report. On that score, the UNDP/IDEA Report reveals that 62 per cent of the persons consulted in August support the Congress’ decisions. “Bolivians demand a new constitution that will make changes and unify all Bolivians”, said Antonio Aranibar, main researcher of the Report.
Finally, the Report is an instrument of outreach paving the way for the urgent political agreements required before the end of the year. In the five major urban centers of the country, Sucre, Tarija, La Paz, Santa Cruz and Cochabamba, the Report has been presented to several groupss comprising Constituent Assembly members, national and local government officials, political parties representatives, civil society organizations, journalists, academics and international cooperation agencies. A third edition of the Report has just been released, in order to respond to the growing demand of information. Constituent Assembly members from different parts of the political spectrum have emphasized how valuable the Report has been to bolster their efforts to reach agreements.
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