Monday, October 06, 2014

El Salvador's Constitutional Chamber and the will of the voters

The Constitutional Chamber of El Salvador's Supreme Court continues to issue rulings impacting the respective rights of voters and political parties in the country.  On October 1 the Constitutional Chamber ruled that deputies elected to the National Assembly under the banner of one party could not defect to form another party.  They can declare themselves independent, but they may not adopt another party affiliation.

The ruling stemmed from a group of dissident ARENA deputies who had formed themselves into a new grouping "United for El Salvador."   The court found that these party defections violated voter's rights to choose deputies belonging to a political party and ideology.   If deputies could be elected under the banner of one party and then shortly afterwards defect to another, the will of the voters could be thwarted.  Deputies must not defect to another party until the next election when they are free to change alliances.

At first blush this ruling might seem to run counter to earlier rulings of the Constitutional Chamber which have seemed to diminish the power of party leadership.   Now party leaders can be more assured of ongoing loyalty of their deputies, something ARENA has had problems with in recent years.   But I think this ruling is really consistent with the basic thread in the recent court rulings -- voters should have the right to choose the candidates they want, whether those candidates are sponsored by parties or are independents.   And now when they choose a candidate from one party, voters are assured that candidate will not suddenly declare allegiance another party for whom the voter did not cast a ballot.


1 comment:

rcmckee said...

This is probably a good thing, all in. Hard right candidates in the US have a long (and not totally successful) history of attempting to run under false flags, and then within weeks or days of taking office, hauling down their "official" colors and hoisting what amounts to a black flag.