Colombian left tops parliamentary polls at cost of ruling party

By Jorge Gil Ángel

Bogota, Mar 13 (EFE).- The Pacto Historico (Historic Pact), an alliance made up by the bulk of the Colombian left, on Sunday won the most seats in the Senate with 17, and 25 in the House of Representatives in the country’s legislative elections, mainly at the cost of the ruling Centro Democratico (Democratic Center) party.

The left-wing coalition channeled into the polls the popular discontent against the socioeconomic policies of the government, on display during last year’s protests, as well as the repeated political scandals that have rocked the country.

However, the Pacto Historico’s victory is not absolute because it will have to deal with a Congress where the right-wing, divided into six parties, continues to be the majority, and will have to seek alliances with the Alianza Verde (Green Alliance) and Centro Esperanza (Hope Center) coalition (14 Senate seats) to counterbalance its adversaries.

In the Senate results, the traditional Conservative and Liberal parties secured 15 seats each, followed by the Centro Democratico with 14, Cambio Radical (Radical Change) 11, the Partido de la U (Social Party of National Unity) 10 and the MIRA-Colombia Justa Libres coalition getting 4 seats.

These were also the first polls to elect 16 victims from rural areas most affected by the armed conflict to the House of Representatives, in a special mechanism.

After the counting of 96.03 percent votes, the Pacto Historico’s Senate candidates received over 2.2 million votes. Its lower house candidates won over 2.4 million votes after the counting of 95.85 percent of the total votes.

The left registered substantial gains compared to the last elections, when its predecessors received 1.2 million votes for the Senate and around 815,000 for the House of Representatives.

Although Centro Democratico candidate Miguel Uribe Turbay, a former central minister, received the highest number of votes (218,909) among all Senate candidates, the ruling party’s performance was abysmal.

From being the dominant force in the upper house with 19 senators, the party now occupies a distant fifth place with 14 seats, with its vote share down from 1.8 million to 700,000 in less than four years.

Even in the lower house the Centro lost 17 seats, down from 32 seats in the outgoing legislature to 15 in the new one, signaling the unpopularity of the government of President Iván Duque.

The other big loser on the right was Cambio Radical (Radical Change), a party led by former vice president Germán Vargas Lleras, which barely got 11 seats in the Senate and 16 in the lower house. EFE


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