Colombia’s sudden suspension of a peace process with guerrilla group FARC has dramatically upset urban public opinion, according to pollster Gallup, which claimed the country’s political parties now have a lower approval rating than the rebels.
It is important to note that Colombia’s pollsters, including Gallup, are notoriously unreliable.
Gallup, which last week claimed the FARC has an 18% approval rating against a 14% approval for the political parties, in late September predicted a 67.6% approval of a peace deal with the guerrillas that was ultimately rejected by a 50.2% majority of voters in early October.
Since the referendum, the disgraced pollsters’ indicators of public opinion in Colombia’s five largest cities have gone wild.
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Colombia’s notoriously corrupt political parties have not enjoyed the majority approval of the people in decades, but since President Juan Manuel Santos took office in 2010 their approval rating has dropped from 42% to 14% last month.
The FARC, on the contrary, has seen a major rise in popular support since a bilateral ceasefire in June and amid increased access to the country’s mass media that has allowed the guerrillas to expose their political agenda.
Additionally, the peace talks have increasingly revealed how Colombia’s political and business elite, like the guerrillas, used terrorist activity for their own benefit, contradicting decades of media and government reports implying the opposite.
Since the peace talks began in 2012, public approval of the media has plummeted from 72% to 51%, according to Gallup. Public approval of the business elite dropped from 61% to 52% in the same period.
FARC vs political parties’ approval
Record-low support for armed conflict
Support for the a negotiated end to the country’s 52-year armed conflict has also increased dramatically after the chock referendum that rejected a peace deal with the guerrillas, according to Gallup.
While 67% of polled urban Colombians said to believe their armed forces are able to defeat the FARC, only 19% of the respondents said they prefer a military defeat rather than a negotiated solution.
Support for such negotiated end to the armed conflict shot up a staggering 20 percentage points to 77% between August and October, according to Gallup.
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The referendum that rejected the peace deal also increased support for peace talks that were revived after the suspension of the peace process.
While a majority of 52% of Colombians were pessimistic about how the talks were going in August, after the inclusion of opposition sectors in the negotiations, 53% of polled urban dwellers in October said to be optimistic.
In spite of President Juan Manuel Santos’ electoral defeat in the referendum, urban Colombians seem to appreciate his response to maintain a ceasefire while opening negotiations with opponents.
The president’s approval rating went from 29% to 34% while that of his primary opponent, former President Alvaro Uribe, went from 52% to 54%.
Those who seem to lose in the first Gallup poll after the referendum are Colombia’s conflict victims.
While at the beginning of the talks 61% of urban Colombians said to be willing to pay taxes for aid for the conflict’s 8 million victims, this had dropped to 41% in October.