Mercosur reached a political agreement to review the composition and election of the group’s Parliament, Parlasur. Under the new system to be implemented in several years the number of seats will be increased based on proportional representation and members of Parlasur will be chosen by direct universal vote.
The agreement was announced by Uruguay’s Foreign Affairs minister Luis Almagro Monday during the Parlasur session and meeting of Mercosur chancellors held in Montevideo.
“We approved the Mercosur parliament political agreement which among other things establishes proportional representation and the need for citizens participation in the election of parliament members”, said Almagro.
Parlasur has been functioning since 2007, with representatives from the four country members, Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay, elected by their peers in each of the different legislatives.
Currently each country member has 18 representatives in Parlasur which is seated in Montevideo.
According to the agreement in the following stage the region’s legislative will have 37 representatives from Brazil; 26 from Argentina, and 18 each from Paraguay and Uruguay.
By 2015 Parlasur will have 75 benches representing Brazil and 43 for Argentina, while Paraguay and Uruguay retain the original 18 each.
The difference in benches is based on proportional representation and the fact that Brazil has a census population of 193 million and Uruguay, 3.3 million.
Of the four Mercosur full members only Paraguay so far has legislation approved enabling its representatives to Parlasur to be elected directly by its electoral body.
Apparently Argentina will be introducing similar legislation in 2011, Brazil in 2012 and Uruguay, possibly in 2014. Uruguay’s opposition is not convinced of the principle of proportional representation for Parlasur.
Mercosur an ambitious free trade area with strong international political presence was officially founded in Paraguay in 1991, following the end to the historic regional leadership rivalry between Brazil and Argentina, which opened the way for the current cohesion scenario.
However the block had faced successive and sometime sour trade and diplomatic disputes among its members and has been “re-launched” on several occasions.
Currently it is in the process of negotiating a cooperation and trade agreement with the European Union, stalled since 2004 and only resumed last May.
Parlasur so far has had virtually no real activity but that which imposes protocol. Following on the founding charter it must hold a session at least once a month in Montevideo.
Besides the four founding members, and Venezuela in the process of incorporation, Mercosur has as associate members Chile, Bolivia and Peru.