[JURIST] The Movement Toward Socialism (MAS) [party website, in Spanish; Wikipedia backgrounder] party of Bolivian President Evo Morales [official website; BBC profile] gained more power to rewrite the country's constitution over the objections of opposing political parties Friday when Bolivia's constitutional assembly [official website, in Spanish] approved a motion to make decisions by majority vote. The measure gives the MAS, which failed to receive [JURIST report] two-thirds of the assembly seats in July's elections, the power to easily adopt populist reforms into the amended constitution [current text], although a two-thirds vote will still be needed to approve the final constitutional draft. The MAS holds 137 of 235 assembly seats. Podemos, the main opposition party, represents wealthy landowners and supports greater state autonomy. AP has more. La Patria has local coverage in Spanish.
Morales, elected last year [JURIST report] following weeks of protests from leftists demanding constitutional changes, is the first indigenous president to be elected in Bolivia [JURIST news archive], and has been an outspoken advocate for the poor and for policies more favorable to the majority indigenous Indian population [JURIST report]. The constitutional assembly convened [JURIST report] in August and will submit its adopted draft to a nationwide referendum by the end of 2007.