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| 5/15/2009 12:00:00 AM

Uribe edges towards autocracy

A popular president seems to be heading towards a third term, despite the damage this would do to democracy - The Economist -

ONCE a country with a healthy, even exaggerated, distrust of executive power, Colombia is on the brink of allowing Álvaro Uribe to seek an unprecedented third consecutive term as president. The Senate is due to vote on May 19th on a bill to call a referendum on the required change in the constitution. Once the text is reconciled with a version already approved by the lower house, it would be reviewed by the Constitutional Court, and could be put to the people in November. Mr Uribe has still not said whether he intends to run in the election due in May 2010, but he has done nothing to discourage the idea. If he is a candidate, on present trends he would win. But some influential Colombians—and outsiders—believe a third term would be a huge mistake for both Mr Uribe and his country.

Many Colombians credit Mr Uribe with transforming their homeland from a near-failed state to a buoyant, if still violent, place. Their gratitude won him a second term in 2006, after the constitution was changed to allow a second consecutive term. After seven years in office, he still enjoys an approval rating of 71%, according to Invamer-Gallup, a pollster. In a poll this month, 59% said they would turn out for a referendum; of those, 84% said they would back Mr Uribe’s right to run again.
 
Read more here.
 
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