Election analysis: Vargas Lleras gains influence, Uribismo takes hit

By bogotapost October 25, 2015

Bogota Mayor ElectionsBeyond the short-term leadership changes at local and regional level, Sunday’s elections bring important consequences for the broad balance of political power in Colombia. The personality-driven nature of Colombian politics means that several major figures won or lost even without running for office themselves. Mike Mackenna takes you through the most powerful political movements in Colombia and looks at what the weekend’s election results mean for each group.

Personality politics


Juan Manuel Santos, Bogota Mayor Elections

Who they follow Juan Manuel Santos, President since 2010
Affiliated political parties Partido de la U, Partido Liberal
Leader’s international equivalent Ex- UK Prime Minister Tony Blair: A believer in the so-called Third Way political philosophy, fusing liberal and conservative ideas
Supporters say… They will bring peace to Colombia through the dialogues with the FARC
Critics say… They are selling the country out to the FARC
Major victories in this election Medellín Mayor – Federico Gutierrez
Valle del Cauca Governor – Dilian Francisco Toro
Antioquia Governor – Luis Perez
What the results mean Their surprise victory in Medellin over their bitter rivals, the Uribistas, suggests that they are winning the FARC dialogue debate
Vargas Lleristas

German Vargas Lleras, Bogota Mayor Elections

Who they follow German Vargas Lleras, Vice-president since 2014
Affiliated political parties Cambio Radical, Partido Conservador
Leader’s international equivalent Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa: Though on the opposite end of the political spectrum, left-wing leader Correa is, like Vargas Lleras, an infrastructure expert with a short temper
Supporters say… They will modernise Colombia
Critics say… They value concrete more than people
Major victories in this election Bogotá Mayor – Enrique Peñalosa
Barranquilla Mayor – Alejandro Char
Cali Mayor – Maurice Armitage
Cudinamarca Governor – Jorge Rey
Most votes for Bogotá City Council
What the results mean Vargas Lleras will be able to use his mayoral allies in Bogotá, Cali and Barranquilla to strengthen his already promising-looking chances in the 2018 presidential elections

Álvero Uribe, Bogota Mayor Elections

Who they follow Senator Alvaro Uribe
Affiliated political parties Centro Democrático, Partido Conservador
Leader’s international equivalent Russian President Vladimir Putin: A divisive strongman who wants to hold public office in perpetuity
Supporters say… They will prevent the Santistas from handing Colombia over to the FARC
Critics say… They want perpetual war to stay politically relevant
Major victories in this election Cali Mayor- Maurice Armitage* (Armitage aligned himself with both Uribe and Vargas Lleras)
What the results mean The Uribistas unexpected loss in one of Uribe’s traditional strongholds, Medellín, suggests that their belligerent rhetoric is losing its attraction for voters as the peace process nears its conclusion

Antanas Mockus, Bogota Mayor Elections

Who they follow Twice ex-Bogotá Mayor Antanas Mockus
Affiliated political parties Alianza Verde
Leader’s international equivalent Ex-Uruguayan President Jose Mujica: An unorthodox politician with a reputation for independence, creativity and honesty
Supporters say… They stand for the sanctity of life and of public resources
Critics say… They’re not strong enough to face Colombia’s security issues
Major victories in this election Bogotá Mayor – Enrique Peñalosa* (Peñalosa had the backing of both Mockus and Vargas Lleras)

3rd most votes for Bogotá City Council

What the results mean Mockus’ backing of Peñalosa, formerly his colleague in the Alianza Verde, suggests that Peñalosa will champion the Mockusistas’ citizenship culture initiatives

Gustavo Petro, Bogota Mayor Elections

Who they follow Outgoing Bogotá Mayor Gustavo Petro
Affiliated political parties Movimiento Progresistas, Polo Democrático, Unión Patriótica
Leader’s international equivalent Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff: An ex-guerrilla suffering from low approval ratings and corruption allegations
Supporters say… They are the best defenders of the most vulnerable Colombians
Critics say… They destroyed Bogotá with corruption and incompetence
Major victories in this election Bogotá City Council – Hollman Morris
What the results mean A painful defeat: they lost the Bogotá mayor’s office and dropped by about a third in city council voting. Many are interpreting this as Bogotanos becoming tired the Polo Democrático after 11 years in charge of Bogotá. Petro had low approval ratings by the end of his reign, while previous Polo mayor Samuel Moreno is in jail for taking bribes to award public infrastructure contracts while he was in office.

By Mike Mackenna