Top officials want experts to meet and fix democracy

Leaders of the three branches of government held what could only be considered a peace parley Tuesday at Casa Presidencial.

President Laura Chinchilla, Víctor Emilio Granados Calvo, president of the Asamblea Legislative, and Luis Paulino Mora Mora, president of the Corte Suprema de Justicia, released a statement pledging to work toward a rejuvenation of public institution and to effect changes that the institutions need and that the citizenry demands.

The way to do this is to impanel a group of experts to recommend how to improve democracy and the governability of the country, they said.

The meeting grew out of the vote two weeks ago to deny reelection to a sitting Sala IV constitutional court magistrate. What followed was a wave of criticism directed at the Asamblea Legislativa and a major public relations effort by court workers to retain their independence. The Costa Rican Constitution gives the legislature the right to appoint and reappoint magistrates, but almost never is one denied reelection.

What was not mentioned in the statement Tuesday was that the effort to fire Fernando Cruz Castro appears to have been engineered by Casa Presidencial with the support of its allies in the legislative body. However, Granados was not present and later opposed the results of the vote.
The statement expressed the signers concern with the events that had produced a confrontation between the judiciary and the legislative assembly.

Since the Arias administration, members of the executive branch have expressed what they said was their inability to govern the country. They blamed the way the Constitution is written, and an effort was started to draw up a new document or to at least make significant changes.

Ms. Chinchilla was frustrated when the Sala IV found fault with the way her massive tax plan passed in the legislature. That killed the plan, although Casa Presidencial has been enacting new taxes bit by bit.

The situation has been made worse by the plummeting public opinions of the president’s management.

The effort to fire Cruz was seen as pay back by the legislative and executive branches for some of the decisions in which he participated.

There were certain technicalities in the vote on Cruz that resulted in an appeal to the Sala IV.

That body has not yet made a decision, but Cruz returned triumphantly to his job Monday.

The statement released Tuesday did not give specific changes that the signers sought to effect. Ms. Chinchilla already makes many regulations by decree.

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