Anti-corruption consultation: a tool that is little used because of its nature

Ecuador, Guatemala and Romania are the most recent cases of a consultation to fight corruption; Colombia will go to the polls next August 26

Anti-corruption consultation: a tool that is little used because of its nature

On August 26, the anti-corruption referendum is voted in Colombia, in which, through seven yes and no answer questions, it is intended to alleviate the budget, controlling the salaries of the high ranks of the public sector, as well as improving the salaries of the public sector. Among other proposals is to establish a limit for posts of popular election such as the Senate, in addition to the obligation of accountability by public officials. What it is really striking about the case is that the population of the country wonders if the consultation is necessary, bearing in mind that it seeks to reduce corruption rates in the branches of public power.

Leer en español: Consulta anticorrupción: una herramienta poco usada por su propia naturaleza

Fighting corruption in Latin America

Recently, in the referendum proposed in Ecuador by President Lenin Moreno on February 4, Ecuadorians strongly supported the question that referred to corrupt politicians. 74% of the population that participated approved the political death for the corrupt, that is, the inability to hold public office in case of being linked in a corruption process.

In 1993 in Guatemala, the president, Ramiro de León Carpio, requested a referendum to reorganize the legislature, and implement constitutional reforms to combat corruption. In spite of the bad organization that there was and of the tensions that the electoral event with the then guerrilla National Guatemalan Revolutionary Unit raised, the voting that occurred in January of 1994 supported him.

Also read: Do Latinos abroad not vote in the elections?

In these two cases, the consultation was mainly aimed at punishing the current politicians, and in the case of Colombia, the 7 questions are all aimed at controlling mainly public spending, officials and accountability.

José Obdulio Gaviria, senator for the Democratic Center party, assured for the KienyKe portal that the bench aims to promote some of the points that in 2003 the then president Álvaro Uribe promoted in his referendum. At the same site, Senator Roy Barreras assured that he will promote in the U party the support of the consultation. On the other hand, Juan Fernando Cristo of the liberal party manifested himself on twitter to show that the bench supports the consultation.

This is the letter in which I ask the liberal Senate bench to support the anti-corruption consultation pic.twitter.com/jFIS4hlvOj

- Juan Fernando Cristo (@CristoBustos) April 9, 2018


It is a little ironic, says Professor Pedro Pablo Vanegas of the Externado de Colombia University, that "a country like Colombia, which has just passed through parliamentary and presidential elections, requests a consultation to fight corruption, when the population has the vote strongest tool to fight it. In recent Latin American history, only Ecuador and Guatemala have used a referendum to fight corruption, mainly by arresting corrupt politicians publicly condemning them for their actions." Vanegas is shocked that Colombia should take this opportunity to give new relief to the corruption scandals in the country.

Romania: a similar story

In February 2017, the European country after more than 14 days of strong protests decided to accept the request of the Romanian President, Klaus Iohannis, to call a referendum after a law was passed that decriminalized certain crimes. The referendum that was held in May 2017 gave the president victory and the crimes continued to be penalized. In addition, the pressure exerted by the European Union gave rigor to the referendum and its result.

For Professor Vanegas, "corruption is not only in Latin America, the case of Romania and its protests in 2017, shows how people get tired of the situation, and how to take political initiatives to combat it."


LatinAmerican Post | Carlos Eduardo Gómez Avella
Translated from “Consulta anticorrupción: una herramienta poco usada por su propia naturaleza”