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Monday, March 13, 2006
Uribe Wins Big in Colombian Senate Elections
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 6:20 am

Via El Tiempo we find that with 88% of the vote counted, the coalition of parties openly supporting President Uribe (the Partido de la U, the Conservatives, Cambio Radical and a number of smaller parties) have won 70 seats in total.

This also marks the first time in Colombian history that neither the Conservative Party nor the Liberal Party has gotten the most votes in a Senate election. La U has earned at this point 1,529,896 votes for 20 seats, with the Conservatives coming in second at this point with 1,405,911 votes for 18 seats. The Liberals, once thought to be a near-permanent majority party, is third with 1,371,403 votes and 17 seats.

There are a number of significant results here, not the least of which being the resuscitation of the Conservatives, which looked near extinction in the 1990s, and the diminution of the Liberals. Further, a number of new, or revamped anyway, parties, have won election and the radical fragmentation of the party system that had been manifesting in recent Senate elections, especially in 2002, has been revered in large measure (I suspect I will post more on that shortly).

I would argue that this change in the system have been brought about by the general evolution of the party system brought about by the 1991 constitution, the effects of Uribe himself on national politics, and the recent electoral reforms.

There can be no doubt that the Liberals were the party that had most benefited from the personal-list PR system that approximated an SNTV (single nontransferable vote) system in Colombia, and further that mismanagement of that system by smaller parties that had led to the great difficulty in new parties achieving s solid foothold in the electoral system.

(As an utter side note: does anyone else find it ironic that a party that is committed to the status quo (i.e., Uribe) is called “Cambio Radical”-i.e., “Radical Change”?)

The BBC notes that turnout was historically low for this election:

But the abstention rate among Colombians reached a record 66%, and 15% of the cast ballots were deemed invalid.

This was blamed on fears of violence that proved largely unfounded, increasing public apathy, and confusion over recent changes in the electoral system.

The number is not, however, a substantial deviation from the long-term participation patterns in such elections in Colombia. If there is a single factor to blame for the diminution, I suspect it is the change in the electoral rules, as based on what I have read to this point, the election-related violence was not especially different this cycle.

Much more, I suspect, on these elections later.

4 Comments »

  1. This morning’s Caracol report shows 13 ‘U’ senators, not 20. Counting is still not complete.

    I would disagree that Cambio Radical is committed to the status quo. Uribe still has an agenda of reforms to enact in a second term, and even the very idea of actual parties in congress that have had to differentiate themselves in an election is a manifestation of ‘radical change,’ which is nowhere near complete.

    I suspect there will be an F&V post or two later on all this, too.

    Comment by Matthew Shugart — Monday, March 13, 2006 @ 9:45 am

  2. Point take on Cambio Radical-I just thought it was funny that a party for “radical change” wanted to re-elect the sitting president (although, granted, re-election is a big change for Colombia…)

    Comment by Dr. Steven Taylor — Monday, March 13, 2006 @ 11:33 am

  3. My mistake: Caracol does show 20 seats for La U.

    Comment by Matthew Shugart/Fruits & Votes — Monday, March 13, 2006 @ 11:39 am

  4. The most updated El Tiempo count is here:

    I tried to get the Registry’s numbers a few minutes ago, but the site is sluggish in the extreme.

    Comment by Dr. Steven Taylor — Monday, March 13, 2006 @ 11:41 am

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