As Eduardo Galeano writes, “qué tal si deliramos por un ratito?” (“why don’t we just fantasize for a little while?”) — so let us try to imagine the President of the Republic.
I imagine a person with dignity, with a personal history showing “loyalty to the Republic and observance of the Constitution”; a person who guarantees that impartiality, in the name of the Constitution, that makes their role “incompatible with any other office.”
I imagine a president who “represents national unity,” who is a guarantor of pluralism and of the representation of the conflicts that run through society, of the expression of different worldviews, of the voice of minorities.
I imagine a president who does not express his own political direction and is not aligned with that of the majority, but is the guardian of the Constitution, through both pushing and checking of impulses, all in the name of the latter.
I imagine a president who ensures that political forces and alternatives can find a place for discussion in Parliament, a discussion in which a reasoned and informed political decision would be reached.
I imagine a president who has a strong feel for the sense of limitation inherent in constitutionalism, who works to protect the limitations, separation and balance of powers (for example, when he “issues decrees having the force of law,” emblematic of the relationship between parliament and government).
I imagine a president who, in watching over the Constitution, is aware that it focuses on the dignity of the person and supports a project of personal and social emancipation.
I imagine a president who encourages the construction of a Republic “founded on work,” of a society that guarantees the “effective participation” of all and the “full development” of each individual.
I imagine a president who thinks in terms of liberation as well as of freedom, who considers how freedom cannot be separated from equality; a president who practices resistance, not just resilience.
I imagine a president who is aware of the link between social and environmental justice, of the limits of private economic initiative that “cannot be carried out in opposition to social utility or in such a way as to damage security, freedom and human dignity.”
I imagine a president who represents the nation in the context of “an order that ensures peace and justice among nations,” and a nation that recognizes the “right of asylum on the territory of the Republic” to all those who are denied “the effective exercise of democratic freedoms.”
Is this just a fantasy, or is it what the Constitution explicitly calls for? Together with this fantasy image of the president comes an image of a Republic, one that currently does not exist. There is a lack of solid ground, a lack of political forces that would want and be able to make the Constitution a concrete program; instead, there are political forces that aim at distorting the Constitution, and have already distorted it, substituting the centrality of Parliament with a process of presidentialization of politics and verticalization of power that is being pushed ahead more and more.
However, this fantasy is not a hopeless one: it is a concrete utopia, it is possible—so let us act in service of this possibility.
The President of the Republic has a role of guarantor, a task that, in the current interregnum of institutions and politics that we are experiencing, takes up a particular significance: it is necessary, therefore, to have a figure that would be up to the task and who wouldn’t push the form of government towards an (illegitimate) de facto semi-presidentialism.
Let’s say it again and again. Even though we’re aware of the decay that surrounds us, let’s not allow it to become the norm.