Changes in the political scale of Latin America? | OP-ED
The results of the elections for Congress in Colombia, apart from being historic, they set out a new political map in the region.
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At least 500 thousand votes for the Senate were not counted in the last elections on March 13 in Colombia to elect the new Congress. Those were the results of an audit to vote lists of several voting stations.
The missing votes were from center-left and left parties and movements, and provoked a scandal involving the election authorities and the Colombian government.
Despite the initial ‘disappearance’ of the votes; the main opposition force, the Historic Pact coalition, obtained the highest voting for the Senate and the second place for the House of Representatives; an unprecedented, yet expected result. The discredit of Ivan Duque’s administration and the governing party, the Democratic Center, have reflected on the polls since last year. Even former President Alvaro Uribe, who backed Duque and is the head of the Democratic Center, hit the rock bottom of disapproval.
But the story does not end there. Uribe and his followers have said that they do not accept the results of the elections, which has set off the alarms of the opposition considering the risks of a coup, unthinkable but not completely off the table, taking into account that Uribism has demonstrated to skip out democracy in the country and transparency when it comes to reaching his goals. He already proved his abilities during plebiscites of 2016, which endorsed the peace treaty with the FARC guerillas. ‘No’ to peace won as part of a strategy where he used lies to deceive his constituents, something the campaign manager would later admit to.
Election authorities announced a recount of all the votes for the Senate, more than 17 million, in order to scare away the fraud ghost. At the other end, the opposition warns that it will be on top of the recount, and has drawn attention to the chain of custody so that there is no place for fraud. The recount could result in more seats for the opposition in Congress.
Meanwhile, all sectors entered the final stages of the presidential elections on May 29. There are eight candidates, but the spotlight is on two opposite sides: Gustavo Petro, from the left and center-left Historic Pact, and right-wing Federico Gutierrez, supported by Uribe and the Democratic Center.
The polls indicate that Petro would win as of today. If this turns to be true, it would be historic not only for Colombia, but also for the region. The country would maintain good relations with the United States, its most important commercial associate. Also, it would join the progressive block that is being formed by Chile, Bolivia, Peru, Honduras, Argentina and Mexico. This year, Lula, the favorite in the elections in Brazil would join too. Chavez and Ortega? Hardly. And Cuba? It is always an ace up the sleeve in Colombia for peace processes; and total peace will for sure be sought after.