Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Term limits in Latin America

In the past few years, the question of term limits in Latin America has been all the rage. The AP just published a story about it. Only at the end of the article, however, is it noted that most countries are not even discussing term limits.

Here is a list I put together quickly:


Bolivia – one term extended to two

Ecuador – still two terms, but can now be consecutive

Nicaragua – no term limits through Supreme Court, though contested

Venezuela – no term limits through national referendum



Brazil – Lula has categorically said no to extending term limits

Chile – terms were shortened from 6 to 4 years with 2005 constitutional reforms

Costa Rica

Dominican Republic

El Salvador


Honduras – became the major theme for opposition to Mel Zelaya





Being actively debated:

Colombia – allowing a third term will be decided in coming months

Should this be considered a trend? Clearly, allowing an unlimited number of terms is not taking off. Ecuador and Bolivia are often noted, though they only allow for two, which is hardly unusual. A majority of countries have done nothing and likely will not in the future either.

On the other hand, the very issue is being debated more now than in recent years, to the point that Lula actually brought up the fact that he wasn't interested. I wonder, though, whether very high profile cases like Venezuela and Honduras, where the debate over term limits (fairly or not) has been front and center, makes the issue seem more relevant across Latin America than it really is.


Palo,  2:38 PM  

I thought Venezuela rejected the "no term limits" through national referendum...

pc 3:53 PM  

In Mexico, legislative and municipal level reelection is part of Senate leader and possible presidential candidate Manlio Fabio Beltrones political reform plan. It's also an idea that gets a fair amount of attention from pundits.

Mike Allison 4:12 PM  

In the last fifteen years, however, several of the countries on the list amended their constitutions to permit the re-election of presidents. Among those reforming their constitutions were Argentina, Brazil, Costa Rica, and Peru. Changing the constitution and term limits has also been discussed in Panama, although the attempt failed there.

The article might be on to something. However, it is a bit more complicated than the author makes it out to be when you break down the laws on consecutive versus nonconsecutive re-election.

This article by Elena Perea Díaz gives a pretty good overview of what is going on in the region:

Greg Weeks 5:01 PM  

That raises a question that should receive more attention, namely the dynamic of nonconsecutive re-election.

What I should find time to do, also, is list the last time presidential term limits were altered in each country. That would provide a better sense of trend.

MSS 1:34 PM  

Not exactly a term-limits question, but the Dominican Republic is going to re-synchronize its presidential and legislative elections effective in 2012, by having the terms of legislators elected in the 2010 midterm election run for six years rather than four.

Chile's shortened presidential term will have the same effect in that country (as did Brazil's shortened term some years ago, which was done at the same time as reelection was permitted).

  © Blogger templates The Professional Template by Ourblogtemplates.com 2008

Back to TOP