Paraguayan Senate cancels the direct election of representatives to Parlasur

The Paraguayan Senate resolved on Wednesday to annul the direct election of national parliamentarians to Parlasur, Mercosur's advisory body, a process that was already questioned in the country due to the economic cost involved and, in some cases, the low political quality of some representatives.

The project, which will now go to the Chamber of Deputies, seeks that representatives to that Parliament be appointed through Congress, as in other member countries of Mercosur.

The Senate approved the project with 35 votes in favor and 10 against and in the second session by videoconference after the building closed at the beginning of the month, after a senator gave COVID-19 a positive result.

Senator Luis Castiglioni, of the ruling Colorado Party (conservative), argued the consultative and non-binding nature of Parlasur as well as the savings that the measure will entail for the state coffers.

Castiglioni said that amount "can be much better used and even more so now that people's sensitivity has risen sharply."

With this he made reference to the citizen demands to cut the salaries of the high positions of the Government and the political class in the framework of the measures of social isolation of the COVID-19, which are causing an economic impact among the population.

Castiglioni, who accompanied the amendment last year as chancellor, recalled that of the member countries this form of election "has Paraguay, Argentina had recently," while Brazil and Uruguay "are represented by their national parliaments."

In the same sense, Enrique Buzarquis, of the Liberal Party, the largest of the opposition, pronounced himself, assuring that Paraguay has to "send clear signals" in times of crisis such as the health emergency faced by the coronavirus.

He added that the modification will not affect the bloc's constitutional treaty, nor the bureaucratic operation of Parlasur nor the structural development funds that Paraguay receives, as well as Uruguay, the minor partners in the agreement.

Mercosur suspended the unilateral direct election in April 2019 until it is done simultaneously in the member countries, so from 2023 Paraguay would again elect its Parlasur representatives among the 80 deputies or 45 senators.

Months after the block decision, the Paraguayan Executive submitted the draft amendment to the Senate, arguing that the money saved, around 4.5 million dollars a year, would be redirected in social projects.

Paraguay has elected its 18 representatives since 2008 by direct vote, and the third term has elapsed amid public criticism of the public charge and the low level of its members.

The Parlasur, whose headquarters are located in Montevideo, with an ordinary monthly session, is an advisory body and its decisions are not binding on its members.


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