Like never before, the left seems to be approaching power in Colombia. Senator and former guerrilla Gustavo Petro starts as the great favorite for the May presidential elections after obtaining a resounding result in Sunday’s legislative elections.
“The Historical Pact has achieved the best result of progressivism in the history of the Republic of Colombia”congratulated the 61-year-old leader, favorite in all the presidential polls.
The left-wing alliance that he leads was the most voted along with the conservatives in the Senate and became the second force in the Chamber of Deputies, behind the Liberals, the traditional parties in Colombian politics.
In addition, with the largest vote in the primaries, he will represent the “progressivism” in the elections that will decide the successor of the unpopular Ivan Dukewho by law may not opt for re-election at the end of his four-year term.
The rise of the left contrasts with the electoral erosion of the right in power. An ex-guerrilla who fought the State until 1990 to later sign peace, reach the Senate (2006), and jump to the mayor’s office of Bogota (2011), could end a centuries-old tradition.
Before and after
With 16 seats in the Senate and 25 in the Lower House, the Historical Pact He won the legislative elections. The result “opens a before and after for the left”said Juan Carlos Rodriguezthe Democracy Observatory of the University of Los Andes.
The opposition coalition fulfilled “the expectations of being the most voted query”: 1.9 million more than the center-right, which elected the former mayor of Medellín Federico Gutiérrez and 3.4 million above the center, which will seek power with former governor Sergio Fajardoaffirmed Cristian Rojas, director of Political Science at the University of La Sabana.
This “really shows strong growth” for a political sector that, due to the six-decade armed conflict, has been associated with leftist guerrillas.
Now the parliamentarians “they necessarily have to make alliances” to be a majority in a Congress of 296 seats, estimated Daniel Garciateacher of the National University.
Adding to the center parties, the indigenous people and the ex-guerrillas of the FARC who signed the peace in 2016 “in any case remain below 50%,” he clarified.
The Duque government, which has around 70% disapproval, dragged the right to the edge of the abyss. For the next legislative period, which will run until 2026, the ruling Democratic Centeruntil today the most influential parliamentary force, will have the sun on its back with 30 congressmen, 21 fewer than those achieved in 2018.
Is about “a major setback”Rodriguez estimates. “They are the ruling party and they have very little to show for it”in the face of the economic ravages of the pandemic and the social unrest that emerged with the massive protests of recent years, harshly repressed.
According to Rojas, “It is a defeat for Duque and it is also his responsibility for the erosion of his government”.
The Democratic Center “He loses a lot of votes in Congress, but the biggest blow is that he is not an option for the presidency at this time”.
The influential former president Alvaro Uribe (2002-2010), promoter of Duque and who resigned from the Senate due to his problems with the justice system for alleged witness tampering, must decide whether to support the uncharismatic former minister Oscar Ivan Zuluaga or lean towards Federico Gutierrez.
Experts agree that the opponents of the current senator and former mayor of Bogotá will reorganize to avoid his victory in May, when he will need more than 50% of the vote to avoid the second round.
conflict in the past
Is “The first year in many decades where the issue of conflict and peace were not at the center of the debate and that was the great spearhead” of the Democratic Center, explains Rodríguez.
For the academic García, the speech “of war and peace as proposed four years ago”when the former FARC guerrilla had just laid down their arms, “It was definitely subordinated to different concerns and realities”.
The electorate, 42% mired in poverty, “look for clearer and sharper exits of change” leaving behind the conflict between guerrilla groups, paramilitaries and state agents that left nine million victims, he concluded.
Thus, the next electoral round will be between a cohesive left that promises deep economic and social reforms, and a weakened right that, as of Monday, will desperately seek a lifesaver.
Ricardo is a renowned author and journalist, known for his exceptional writing on top-news stories. He currently works as a writer at the 247 News Agency, where he is known for his ability to deliver breaking news and insightful analysis on the most pressing issues of the day.