Elections in Colombia

Photo: Danilo Arenas


The progressive field is advancing in South America not only in electoral results. In Colombia there are real chances to win

The result of the legislative elections in Colombia brought new signs about the existence of a progressive wave in South America. The Historic Pact coalition, led by Gustavo Petro, who was chosen as the leftist candidate for the Colombian presidency, in the election that will take place on May 29, won an important victory. Petro's coalition elected 16 senators, winning the largest bench in the House alongside the Conservative Party. In the Chamber of Deputies, the Historic Pact obtained 25 seats, the same number of seats as the conservatives.

Last year, Gabriel Boric, from the left-wing Social Convergence party, was elected president of Chile, also indicating the strengthening of the progressive wave in the region, which started in 2019, when Alberto Fernández won the Presidency of Argentina.

After Fernández, Luis Arce of the Movement to Socialism (MAS) won the 2020 presidential election in Bolivia, and Pedro Castillo of Free Peru was elected president of Peru last year. Of the last six presidential elections held in the region (Argentina, Uruguay, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador and Chile), only in Uruguay – with Luis Lacalle Pou – and in Ecuador – through Guilherme Lasso – did the right end up prevailing.

It is worth remembering that, from 2017 to 2019, we had a reverse trend. In that period, four presidential elections were won by the right: Jair Bolsonaro (Brazil in 2018), Sebastián Piñera (Chile in 2017), Ivan Duque (Colombia in 2018) and Mario Abdo (Paraguay in 2018). And in Venezuela, the left won: Nicolás Maduro, of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV), was re-elected.

In this progressive wave that started in 2019, which in the past was called the “pink wave” or “post-neoliberalism”, the electoral results in Chile and Peru call attention. The two countries, which were considered examples of liberal models in the economy, elected presidents who were adept at state protagonism. In the case of Chile, the change was even more profound, because before Boric's election, there were huge protests that resulted in the call for a plebiscite, and for a National Constituent Assembly, which is reformulating the Constitution inherited from the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet.

As we can see, the progressive camp is advancing in South America not only in electoral results – four victories in the last six presidential elections – but also gaining ground in countries (Chile and Peru) that until recently had the free market guiding even their constitutions.

With the change in the correlation of forces initiated in 2019, five countries in the region are now under progressive control (Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Peru and Venezuela). Another six nations (Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Paraguay and Uruguay) are in the hands of liberal/conservative political forces. Although numerically right-wing governments are still in greater numbers in South America, all presidential elections won by this field in the region, with the exception of Uruguay (2019) and Ecuador (2021), took place until 2018.

In addition to the May election in Colombia, where the dispute should be polarized between Gustavo Petro and the right-wing candidate, Federico Gutierrez, of the Movimento Acredita, the central stage of the dispute in this South American power game will be the presidential election in Brazil, which today projects a clash between former President Lula (PT) and President Jair Bolsonaro (PL). In other words, as has been happening in other countries in South America, left and right will face a new clash in Colombia and Brazil.

Thus, the possible victories of Gustavo Petro and Lula would confirm the signs of the existence of this progressive wave in South America, as the left would expand its victories from four to six presidential elections in eight disputes since 2019. above all, high unemployment and the loss of purchasing power of significant portions of the region's population, this new "pink wave" could curb the more fiscalist economic conduct in favor of an agenda in which the State and income distribution would become an agenda common in many of these countries.

*Carlos Eduardo Bellini Borenstein holds a degree in political science at ULBRA-RS.


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