Documento de Trabajo, Instituto de Investigaciones Socio-Económicas 06/09
This paper examines the new Bolivian Constitution (NBC), promulgated in February 2009, from the viewpoint of the new economic institutionalism. The NBC fixes the rules conducive to the establishment of a plural economic organization. These rules are eclectic, yet they convey a state-led development model. A significant extension of the state-owned enterprises is a prominent feature. Also, the NBC assigns an important place to communitarian (or communal) forms of organization, although their boundaries are ill defined. The NBC also purveys the view of development based primarily on the exploitation and industrialization of Bolivia's natural resources. However, the exploitation has to be compatible with the preservation of the environment and it has to take into account the particular interests of the indigenous peoples in whose territory are the resources, in line with the recovery of the ethnic identities that occupies a centerplace in the NBC. The traditional rights of republican institutions are recognized in the NBC but they leave the front stage to transit to a second level of importance. In particular, several easements are imposed to the right to private property. Moreover the NBC opens vulnerabilities to private property rights and makes them more contestable than in the previous constitutions. Prima facie, the weakening of the institutions of private property will harm the long-term growth prospects of Bolivia's economy. The NBC contains many disincentives to the accumulation of physical and human capital, as well as of technical progress and the development of markets. From a political viewpoint, the NBC is the de jure arrangement of the de facto new distribution of political power among social classes that has surged in Bolivia since early 2006. It is too early to conclude on the stability of this new political distribution. But even so, we can foresee that the long-term consequences of today's institutions, unfriendly to markets, will be very important.