Colombia | Parliamentary Elections: the Results Reflected Continued Social Unrest, but Real Change Will Be Won on the Streets

Originally Published by the Executive Committee of the Partido Socialista de los Trabajadores (PST) Colombia on March 16, 2022, here
The social outburst in Colombia, which began at the end of 2019 and had its greatest expression in the National Strike of 2021, was expressed in the parliamentary elections and presidential consultations last March 13. The Historic Pact (composed of democratic socialist and progressive parties) was the most voted list in Senate and House and its consultation obtained double the votes of the center and right-wing consultations. In addition, the candidacy of Francia Márquez – which won the votes of those sectors most involved in the social struggle in Colombia – had almost 800 thousand votes.
Pacto Histórico won 5,580,000 votes, Equipo Colombia 3,980,000 votes and Centro Esperanza 2,150,000 votes. The electoral panorama for the presidential elections, therefore, tends to be grouped in two candidacies, that of Federico Gutiérrez, which would gather Uribism, conservatives, and other right-wing sectors, and that of Gustavo Petro, which would gather reformist and liberal sectors. Proof of this is the resignation of Óscar Iván Zuluaga to his candidacy of the Democratic Center and his support of Federico Gutiérrez one day after the consultation.
Regarding the vote of the Historic Pact, a coalition that gathers most of the sectors that have participated in the social struggles, the vote for Francia Marquez shows widespread discontent with the alliances made by Gustavo Petro and his method that conforms with parliamentary lists, which privileged the agreements with sectors of traditional politics. Marquez’s important showing today sends a message to Gustavo Petro not only about who should occupy the vice-presidency, but that the program of the Historic Pact responds more to the social struggles than the alliances with liberalism.
And despite the fact that Gustavo Petro’s victory is historic, the almost six million votes obtained do not outright win in the first round to avoid a second-round that unites the center and right. This situation has put pressure on the most pro-Petro sectors of the Historic Pact who are moving to the right to seek an agreement with the Liberal Party, and even negotiating the vice-presidency.
Parliamentary elections: Uribism falls, traditional parties grow
The fall of the Democratic Center from 51 to 30 congressmen and the growth of the Historic Pact, which obtained more than 40 congressmen, does not imply a favorable legislative scenario for an eventual government of Gustavo Petro.
In the Senate of the Republic, the Historic Pact had 16 seats; the Center Coalition, 14 seats; the Liberal Party, 15 seats; the Conservative Party, 16 seats; the Democratic Center, 14 seats; Radical Change, 11 seats; Union Party for the People, 10 seats; Just and Free Colombia, 4 seats; Comunes, 5 seats; Mais, 1 seat and AICO, 1 seat.
In the House of Representatives, the Historic Pact obtained 25 seats, the Center Coalition 12 seats and Citizen Force Party 1 seat, while the Liberal and Conservative parties had 32 and 25 seats respectively.
Likewise, the most backward sectors of politics won several seats, as did the son of paramilitary Jorge 40, or in the special Afro constituency, in which Uribism won both seats.
Changes are won in the streets, not at the ballot box
This panorama shows that the so-called alternatives would barely reach 75 seats in the Congress of the Republic, which would be forced to negotiate with the traditional parties. For this reason, socialists have insisted that changes will not be achieved through the ballot box and that even in a government of the Historic Pact, mobilization in the streets will be necessary to defeat a political regime that perpetuates poverty and misery. Today, poverty reaches 45% of the population and unemployment, 19%. The cost of living has far exceeded the wage increase, even if it is considered historic. It is necessary to continue demanding from this and the next government urgent measures such as non-payment of the foreign debt and the breaking of trade agreements with imperialism; distribution of working hours without wage cuts (full employment plan) and freezing the cost of the family basket, among others, as part of a plan of struggle against the hunger to which this capitalist system is leading us. Likewise, we must continue to demand the clarification of the crimes of the State and the punishment of those guilty of the police and paramilitary massacre.
Therefore, in spite of the optimism left by the results of the parliamentary elections and the prospects of presidential elections in which the Uribista candidate confronts the reformist candidate, it is necessary that those of us who supported Francia Márquez and who have proposed a program that resolves the problems of the working class and the poor, must organize our struggle. The changes we need cannot be obtained at the ballot box – with an anti-democratic electoral system – but in the streets, with the organized mobilization of the masses.

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