Colombians are increasingly optimistic about the outcome of ongoing peace talks with the country’s largest rebel group, the FARC, according to the latest Gallup poll.
The pollster interviewed 600 persons, 72% of Colombians is in favor of the talks. Twenty-six per cent said to oppose the talk.
This support is significantly higher than in December when 62% responded to be in favor of the talks and 36% said to oppose the talks.
While 68% of interviewed Colombians said to believe that the armed forces are able to defeat the FARC through military force, 69% said to prefer dialogues over an extension of the military offensive.
The increased support for the talks coincides with increased optimism over the outcome of the talks that began in November 2012.
According to Gallup, a 53% majority of Colombians believe that the negotiations will end in a peace accord. However, a large minority of 44% said to believe the opposite.
The only previous month in which Colombians were predominantly optimistic about the outcome of the talks was in June 2014 when elections were held and the peace talks were extensively dealt with in election debates.
Colombians’ sentiment on outcome of peace talks
Little support for negotiating parties
While support for a political solution to the country’s 50-year-long armed conflict has grown significantly since 2012, support for those negotiating peace can count on very little approval.
The FARC’s approval rating rose from 4% to 5%. The group’s disapproval rating dropped from 93% to 90% after the guerrillas called a unilateral ceasefire in December.
President Juan Manuel Santos’ approval rating remained at 43% while his disapproval rating rose from 51% to 53%.
Juan Manuel Santos’ approval rating
Concessions to FARC a tough sell
If a peace deal is reached, the FARC will cease to be determined a terrorist organization and will convert itself to a political movement.
However, in order to do so, FARC members need amnesty in order to be able to take part in politics, and this can count on very little support for the unpopular guerrillas.
Only 22% of Colombians are in favor of an agreement that allow FARC members to take part in politics without having first been to prison. An overwhelming 77% rejects this possibility.
According to Gallup, 57% of Colombians is unwilling to sacrifice justice to favor peace. This was 52% in December. The percentage of Colombians who does want to make compromises on justice dropped from 44% to 41%.
The armed conflict
Causes of the conflict
No more than 27% of Colombians believe the FARC will make “major efforts” to repair its victims. Eighty per cent of the population does not believe the guerrillas will help fight drug trafficking, traditionally one of the main sources of income for the rebels.
Pessimism about post-conflict
If the talks come to a positive end, the country is going to see a number of severe policy changes in regards to political participation, drug trafficking and agriculture.
While optimism is on the rise across the board, pessimism about the effective implementation of post-conflict policies to treat the causes of the war is still most prevalent.
No more than 31% of Colombians believe a peace deal will mean the end of political violence in the country. Sixty-six percent believes political violence will continue.
Forty-nine per cent of Colombians believe a peace deal will improve a more just wealth distribution in the countryside. The wealth disparity among rural Colombians is widely seen as one of the main causes of the conflict and one of the reasons leftist groups like the FARC are able to recruit hundreds of new members each year.
The FARC guerrillas and the government are currently negotiating peace in Cuba and seeking a deal that would allow a bilateral ceasefire to come into force before an eventual peace treaty between the parties that have been at war since 1964.