Colombia’s regional elections: Will Uribe seek a third term?

A total of 32 governors and more than a thousand mayors were elected yesterday in Colombia. The opposition is claiming victory, in part because candidates from the leftist party Polo Democrático Alternativo (PDA) and from the Liberal Party won in some key cities, like Bogotá (the capital), and in some large departments, such as Atlántico, Cundinamarca and Santander. An opposition candidate was also elected in Cali, Colombia’s third largest city.

The political debate in Colombia will now shift to the 2010 presidential elections. The government’s core supporters will argue that it has become necessary to promote a constitutional amendment to allow President Uribe to run for a third term in 2010. The argument is that no other candidate will be able to defeat Lucho Garzón, Bogotá’s popular current mayor, and the most likely PDA presidential candidate in 2010.

Not all members of the government’s coalition think likewise. Cambio Radical, which also obtained electoral success yesterday, will probably oppose Uribe’s reelection. Its leader, German Vargas, wants to run as a presidential candidate himself. The same is true of the conservative party, which has announced that it will have its own candidate.

These are good news for the economy. Even if they like Uribe, investors should remember that third terms have been disastrous in the region. In Colombia, passing a constitutional amendment requires a lot of pork barrel, while having the president run for a third term will certainly result in fiscal expansion and populism, at a time when the priority should be to strengthen fiscal sustainability. With a president focused on leaving a legacy before 2010, chances are that Colombia would make more progress towards the consolidation of security and macroeconomic stability.

5 Responses to "Colombia’s regional elections: Will Uribe seek a third term?"

  1. Vitoria Saddi   October 29, 2007 at 4:57 pm

    Mauricio, I was under the impression that the macro conditions improved under Uribe’s and a third term would be welcomed. Are you saying that Uribe would have to spend more as a way to pass the amendment? Do you see Colombia better off under another President, rather than Uribe’s?ThanksVitoria

  2. Marcela Eslava   October 30, 2007 at 12:00 pm

    The opposition receives strong support in the regional elections, yet a third term by Uribe seems welcomed by a large portion of the population…what do you think makes Colombians so undecided in terms of ideological preferences? . El Tiempo illustrated this nicely: three women interviewed after voting said they had voted for the PDA for mayor, and city council…but if Uribe goes for a third term they would vote for him again!

  3. Carolina M   October 30, 2007 at 4:45 pm

    It seems like Samuel’s Moreno performance as the major of Bogotá in the next few years and the way his relationship with president Uribe evolves will determine a lot in the next presidential election of 2010. If he manages to run the city continuing in the same fashion as his predecessor, the PDA will be strengthen, Uribe will be defied and the PDA will stand a higher chance in 2010. However, even though in the past months the PDA has shown itself as a cohesive organization, there are at least three fragmentation within its members; a fragmentation that if triggered could weaken the party.

  4. Adriana Nieto   November 2, 2007 at 12:27 pm

    For the past two electoral periods non-traditional parties have shown significant majority; beginning with Uribe’s 2000-2004 administration, engined by “Partido de la U”.Current political trends in Colombia are reflecting the inconformity of the population towards traditional parties. So, political choices are not reflecting ideologies or policy preferences, instead, they are revealing the propensity of Colombia’s population to vote for the candidates that are more disconnected from the “same old, same old”.Therefore, 2010 political debate will be centered on a battle between the two strongest non-traditional alternatives. But, is Uribe willing to struggle for a 3rd round? On his own words, “Re-election only under an hecatomb”. Now, as newspaper “El Tiempo” asks, what would be an hecatomb for president Uribe?

  5. Guest   November 3, 2007 at 5:36 pm

    Uribe should not seek a third term: true democracies are not based on single individuals but on the capacity to have political turnover with institutional stability. Colombia will survive without Uribe if it is a true democracy.