Archive for the ‘Colombia’ Category

Essay: An Analysis of Colombia’s Democracy

See my essay “An Analysis of Colombia’s Democracy” from November 2008 published on e-International Relations.

This paper focuses on the question whether the emergence of democracy in Colombia can be explained based on the assumptions of the ‘sequentialist’ or ‘preconditionist’ theories as suggested, amongst many others, by Fareed Zakaria or Edward Mansfield and Jack Snyder, or if, by contrast, the views of ‘gradualists’ or ‘universalists’ such as Sheri Berman or Thomas Carothers are more indicated to explain and analyze Colombia’s democratic past, present and future.

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Colombian Elections – Antanas Mockus Gaining Ground

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Antanas Mockus

At the end of my post Sweet Sour Colombian Democracy from March 23rd I mentioned that Noemí Sanín, the Conservative Party presidential candidate, can “count on a solid popular support and will certainly challenge Santos in May’s elections”. Well, the situation has now changed significantly in the last few days. Since Antanas Mockus, the Green Party’s presidential candidate and a very popular former mayor of Bogotá, joined forces with Sergio Fajardo, his candidacy is gaining ground and has overtaken Sanín, according to the latest polls. Fajardo, a former mayor of Colombia’s second largest city Medellín, was presidential candidate himself, but now agreed to join Mockus as his candidate for vice-presidency after the polls gave him little hope for success. While the “independent ticket” Mockus/Fajardo is very popular in their respective cities, they are rather “unknown” outside of these. If they make it to the second round, mobilizing support outside Bogotá and Medellín will be their major challenge. They can count on considerable support from young people and students, but they need to mobilize also other strata of the population in order to be a serious presidential contender.
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Sweet Sour Colombian Democracy

Image by Arnaud Carlos Andrès Vittet (found on

Democracy has had a hard time in the past few years in some parts of Latin America. In Venezuela, Hugo Chávez has turned a once liberal democracy into an electoral autocracy. Various constitutional reforms undertaken since he took power in 1999 almost guarantee him a de facto presidency for life. Followers of his “21st Century Socialism” in the region, such as Daniel Ortega in Nicaragua or Rafael Correa in Ecuador, seem to have similar goals of perpetuation of power. In the case of Colombia, President Uribe’s intention of running for a third term, which is not provided for under the current constitution and therefore would require a constitutional change to be approved by popular referendum, was widely criticized. It was seen as yet another attempt of a Latin American head of state—although of opposed ideological convictions with regards to the proponents of Chávez’ “Bolivarian Revolution”—to concentrate too much power in too few hands. But Colombia, a country with strong democratic traditions[1], has once again proven to be a democracy with functioning institutions and separation of powers. The constitutional court turned down a law, which would have allowed a popular referendum about the possibility for President Uribe to run for a third consecutive term, as being unconstitutional.

Throughout his two terms (2002-2006 and 2006-2010), Uribe has enjoyed an overwhelming popularity of around 70% amongst the Colombian population—a unique figure among its Latin American neighbours, attributable to the Colombian society’s fatigue with regards to the high rates of kidnappings and homicides, as well as to the failed peace talks with the FARC during Andrés Pastrana’s government. And would he have the opportunity to run for a third term, he would most certainly win the elections. But Uribe, despite his known aspirations to be re-elected a second time and in an act of democratic statesmanship, immediately said to accept and respect the decision of the constitutional court. Read more…

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