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Poor Outcomes for the Governing Coalition in Colombian Regional Elections Open Debate on its Future


Debate future Colombian government coalition regional election results
The poor results of the elections open debate on the future of the government coalition in Colombia – Credit: ClacsoTV / CC BY 3.0

The regional elections in Colombia on October 29 resulted in poor outcomes for the Historic Pact, the governing coalition supporting President Petro. As expected, the debate about its future has opened among its members, who, amid criticisms and reproaches, are seeking a formula to ensure the continuity of the political project that led to the election of the country’s first left-wing president in 2022.

The Historic Pact is a coalition currently composed of 13 political parties. These are 13 organizations with their own legal status, different leadership, and even different proposals. However, since its inception in 2018 with just three formations, its formal establishment in 2021, and the inclusion of independents later on, it remains the reference point for Colombian political left.

The results of the recent elections clearly show the need for self-criticism and deep reflection to ensure the continuity of a project, that of President Gustavo Petro, who by law cannot seek re-election when his term ends in 2026.

Internal disputes and mutual criticisms

Gustavo Bolivar, the coalition’s candidate for the mayoralty of Bogota and who was significantly defeated in the recent elections, was the first to voice his concerns. On election night, he stated that the coalition was “broken” and needed to be “repaired,” a sentiment that was denied by other leaders such as David Racero and Senator María Jose Pizarro.

Days later, Bolivar expressed that “self-criticism is needed to correct the course. The Historic Pact is indeed broken in many parts of Colombia due to the imposition of closed lists without internal consultation. Those who do not recognize this truth are not reading the reality,” he said on his X account, fueling the internal debate over the imposition of candidates in closed lists, preventing the public from choosing their representatives personally.

In this regard, leftist councilman Carlos Carrillo in Bogota, who had run as a mayoral candidate before the decision to present Bolivar, criticized some of the names that occupied the most significant positions on the closed list of councilors in the capital. “Jaime Dussan’s daughter was given the third position on the list. This means that no matter what happens, she will be elected. Isn’t it immoral to ask for votes in the name of causes when we know that nepotism, political maneuvering, and corruption were imposed within the list? The name of Rocio Dussan was imposed above hundreds of candidates who had the right to compete and be elected,” Carrillo said on his social media.

Gustavo Bolivar’s statements were quickly answered by another major loser of the election, former Mayor of Medellin, Daniel Quintero. The independent politician supports the Historic Pact. A few weeks ago, he resigned from the position of mayor of the country’s second-largest city to participate in the campaign of his successor and brother-in-law, Juan Carlos Upegui, who suffered a significant defeat against the conservative candidate and now mayor-elect, Federico Gutierrez.

“Bolivar, within that self-critique, it’s time to include yourself. The government has been left alone due to toxic leadership like yours. How many of us who have supported Petro independently have been treated worse by you than by the establishment. Some of us have remained steadfast, many have left. If the leadership of the Pact for 2026 is in your hands, the Pact is over,” stated the former Mayor of Medellin, who is seen by many as having presidential aspirations for the 2026 elections.

A Proposal for the Future

Beyond the criticisms and personal references, there are voices within the Historic Pact that are looking towards the future and working on rebuilding. One of the most important is that of Senator Maria Jose Pizarro, the daughter of the former leader of the M-19 guerrilla and presidential candidate assassinated in 1986, Carlos Pizarro. Senator Pizarro emphasized the need for changes while denying the breakup of the coalition. In an interview with Blu Radio, she clarified that the Historic Pact is “not a unitary party.”

“We are not a unitary political party; that is, in this country, there are well-established parties with over 200 years of history, such as the Liberal or Conservative parties, while others have decades of history. Of course, there are other parties with a longer trajectory, such as the Democratic Pole, but there are also newer ones, starting with the president’s own party, Human Colombia, or very different factions like the Mais party,” Maria Jose Pizarro explained.

The senator has introduced the possibility of the coalition becoming a single party, merging the different formations that currently make up the coalition. “In 2022, precisely the year in which we won the presidential elections, we were six political parties, and today there are thirteen political parties. I believe this also responds, of course, to the proliferation of political parties we have today. What we had was a very difficult exercise of unity. Some of us have been insisting for almost a year, right after we won the elections, on the need to establish a unitary political party. This is a single doorway; only through unity can we move forward,” she said in the radio interview.

The Positive Side

Despite the unfavorable results of the recent elections, where the Historic Pact did not win any of the major city mayoralties and only secured three departmental governorships, Maria Jose Pizarro emphasized the positive aspects of the outcome.

“If we review the 2019 elections, which were the previous regional elections, we did not have even 10% of the representation. In the case of assemblies, we had 14 deputies from the parties that make up the Historic Pact, which is less than 3%, as we are talking about 400 to 418 seats in the assemblies. At this moment, we have nearly 40; in assemblies alone, we have gone from 3% to 10%,” said the senator.

Pizarro also pointed out that when the coalition was first formed, it consisted of three “minority and marginalized” political parties in the Colombian political landscape. She emphasized that the Historic Pact now has one councilman in Medellin, a traditionally very conservative city and a stronghold of the opposing Democratic Center party. She noted that they had never before managed to elect a single councilman in the capital of Antioquia.

“In Medellin, we have one councillor, and we had never had councillors before. In other departments where we have consolidated as the most voted force, such as in Cauca or Nariño, where we managed to advance, but we could have advanced much further,” Pizarro concluded.

Debate future Colombian government coalition regional election results
Daniel Quintero, Gustavo Bolivar and Carlos Carrillo have criticized the situation of the Historic Pact – Photo: @QuinteroCalle / X / capture youtube / CC BY 3.0 / Bogota Council / Public Domain

Much Work Ahead

There are many unknowns and, above all, a lot of work ahead for the Colombian left if it wants to participate confidently in the 2026 presidential and legislative elections. Although there is still plenty of time, choosing a successor to Gustavo Petro who can gain the consensus that Petro achieved in 2022 will not be an easy task.

The first decision that the political coalition must make is regarding its future as an electoral platform and as the common home of Colombian progressivism. Calming tensions, rebuilding broken trust, addressing wounded egos, and acknowledging responsibility for their own mistakes will be a necessary step before consolidating the left as a real alternative in a traditionally conservative country.

Before that, the Historic Pact and the president for whom it provides parliamentary support have two and a half years of governance ahead. During this time, they must fulfill their reform promises, the same promises that earned them the people’s trust just 17 months ago.

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