The regional elections in Colombia have come to a close, and it is time to analyze the outcomes and their implications for the country’s political landscape. These elections have been closely watched, as they were seen as a key test for the wave of political change that has been sweeping through Colombia in recent years.
Results have shown a mixed picture, with traditional political forces making a comeback in some regions while new faces emerge in others.
In this article, we will delve into the details of the regional elections, discussing the winners, the losers, and the overall impact on Colombia’s political scene.
Traditional Politics Triumphs in Major Cities
The results of the regional elections have revealed a clear trend of traditional politicians securing victories in major cities across Colombia. Candidates from established political parties, representing the more traditional political ideologies, have triumphed in cities like Bogotá, Medellín, and Barranquilla.
Carlos Fernando Galán in Bogotá, Federico Gutiérrez in Medellín, and Alejandro Char in Barranquilla have emerged as the winners, signaling a return to the status quo that existed prior to the social upheaval and the pandemic.
A New Era Begins in Chocó
While traditional politics may have prevailed in some regions, the regional elections have also brought about a historic moment in Chocó. For the first time in its history, the department has elected a woman as its governor.
Nubia Carolina Córdoba Curi, an accomplished lawyer and member of the Liberal Party, secured a significant victory with 49.29% of the vote. Her election marks a milestone for gender representation in Chocó, and she brings a wealth of experience and expertise to the role.
The Decline of the Barrera Clan in Casanare
The regional elections have dealt a blow to the Barrera clan’s political power in Casanare. For the first time since 2015, neither Senator Alirio Barrera nor any of his family members will hold the position of governor in the department.
Instead, Cesar Ortíz Zorro, a former congressman from the Green Alliance party, emerged as the winner with 56.39% of the vote, defeating Marisela Duarte, Barrera’s wife, who garnered 38.01% of the vote. Zorro’s victory marks a significant shift in Casanare’s political landscape and underscores the desire for change among the electorate.
From BMW Hero to Bogotá Council Member
The regional elections have also brought some surprising outcomes, such as the election of Angelo Schiavenato to the Bogotá Council. Schiavenato gained popularity after a video of him using his BMW to fend off two thieves attempting to rob him went viral in 2022.
Capitalizing on his newfound fame and a strong social media following, Schiavenato secured a council seat as a candidate for Rodrigo Lara’s party. With 11,000 votes, he became the third most-voted candidate from his party. Schiavenato’s election highlights the power of social media and personal narratives in shaping political outcomes.
Political Sparring Between Governor Zuluaga and President Petro
In the aftermath of the regional elections, a war of words has erupted between Meta Governor Juan Guillermo Zuluaga and President Gustavo Petro. The exchange began with Zuluaga’s claim that areas under the influence of FARC dissidents had been responsible for overseeing the electoral process, likening it to “putting the mouse in charge of the cheese.”
Petro swiftly responded, accusing Zuluaga of spreading lies and fear. The heated exchange reflects the deep divisions within Colombian politics and highlights the challenges that lie ahead for the country’s leaders.
Reflections from the Pacto Histórico
Members of the Pacto Histórico, a political coalition led by Gustavo Petro, have offered their reflections on the results of the regional elections. Senator María José Pizarro and Representative David Racero, both members of the coalition, acknowledged that while the Pacto Histórico made progress, there is room for further advancement.
They noted that the coalition’s representation has increased significantly since the 2019 elections, and they emphasized the importance of dialogue and unity among their allies to consolidate the desired change in the regions.
Fuchi Forero: The Motorcyclist Turned Council Member
Julián Forero, better known as ‘Fuchi,’ has emerged as the most popular council member in Bogotá. Running on a platform focused on mobility issues, Forero garnered an impressive 69,230 votes, surpassing all other candidates.
His campaign centered on fighting corruption within the city’s transportation department and addressing issues such as road potholes and the towing system for illegally parked vehicles. Forero’s success underscores the importance of addressing everyday concerns in local politics and the power of grassroots movements.
Daniel Quintero’s Defeat in Medellín
The regional elections brought disappointment for former Medellín Mayor Daniel Quintero. Despite his resignation from office a month prior, citing a desire to campaign for Juan Carlos Upegui, the candidate from the Independientes movement, Quintero’s preferred candidate faced a resounding defeat.
Quintero, however, claimed that the Independientes movement emerged as a winner in the regional elections, highlighting the 14 mayoral victories and numerous other positions secured by the party. Quintero’s assertion reflects the resilience of political movements even in the face of individual setbacks.
The Gómez Family’s Loss in Barrancas
The regional elections marked a significant loss for the Gómez family in Barrancas. Juana Gómez Bacci, the daughter of former governor Kiko Gómez, failed to secure the mayoral position by fewer than 850 votes. Vicente Francisco Berardinelli emerged as the winner with 50.81% of the vote, while Gómez Bacci garnered 46.40%.
Barrancas, a municipality of 38,000 inhabitants, was once a stronghold of the Gómez family, who ruled the region for 24 years. The family’s political power waned in 2007 but was marred by violence and corruption. The recent defeat further diminishes their influence in the region.
Maintaining Order During the Elections
The regional elections were not without challenges, as incidents of violence and unrest were reported in various parts of Colombia. The Fiscalía General de la Nación recorded 29 instances of public disorder during the electoral process.
Altercations and clashes between citizens and security forces were reported in departments such as Antioquia, Meta, Putumayo, Cundinamarca, Nariño, and Arauca. The exact details of these incidents have not been disclosed. However, it is crucial to note that despite these disturbances, the government has hailed the elections as a relatively peaceful day for Colombia.
Representation of Women in Bogotá’s Council
While women made gains in some regions, the representation of women in Bogotá’s Council has decreased. Several political parties, including Renovación Nacional, Colombia Justa Libres, Cambio Radical, and Lara’s party, failed to elect any female candidates.
In contrast, the Pacto Histórico’s closed list emerged as the frontrunner for gender representation, with five female councilors elected. This disparity highlights the ongoing challenges of gender equality in Colombian politics and the need for greater efforts to promote female leadership at all levels.
The regional elections in Colombia have provided a nuanced view of the country’s political landscape. While traditional political forces have reasserted themselves in some regions, new faces and voices have emerged in others. The results reflect the complexities and divisions within Colombian society and highlight the ongoing struggle for political change.
As the victors take office and the losers regroup, it remains to be seen how these outcomes will shape the future of Colombia and its political trajectory. Only time will tell whether this marks the end of the wave of change or a pause before a new surge.