“It was a great day for the coalition of peace,” President Juan Manuel Santos said in a speech Sunday night following Colombia’s congressional elections in which his coalition parties lost significant support.
“Against all odds, the U [Party] kept first,” said the head of state, referring to his U Party (Partido de la U), which lost more than half of its seats — and the sizable control they brought — in the House and the Senate but did manage to maintain a simple majority in Congress.
Santos went on to applaud the performance of the Liberal Party (Partido Liberal-LP) and Radical Change party (Cambio Radical-CR) in Senate elections. Together with the U party (Partido de la U) and members of the Conservative Party, they form the Coalition of National Unity, Santos’ governing coalition.
While the loyalty of the Conservative Party has yet to be determined, Santos should maintain a slight absolute majority in the Senate.
The speech does not reflect the severity of the losses suffered by Santos and his ruling coalition, downplaying in particular the significance of gains made by former President and, now, Senator Alvaro Uribe and his newly formed Democratic Center (Centro Democratico) party, which trailed only Santos’ U Party with 14.48% of the vote, according to preliminary results.
Santos offered something of an olive branch to Uribe, who has been among his staunchest critics in recent years, congratulating his predecessor on his party’s achievements and asking that the two find a way to “leave hate to the side” and “work together for the country.”
In Uribe’s own post-election adress, the tone was perhaps more combative. Uribe, who will soon become the first former president to serve in Congress, said that “the work of the Democratic Center has just begun,” making references to strengthening security concerns, one of his primary focuses throughout the congressional campaign.
The party ended the night securing 20 seats in the senate with just under 15% of the vote, and 12 seats in the house with just under 10% of the vote.
Santos has until now enjoyed a massive political pull in congress, however, the Democratic Center has gained an important political sway this upcoming term, becoming the largest opposition party and a force Santos will now be forced to deal with.
- Fue un gran día para la coalición de la paz: Santos (Caracol Radio)
- “Senador Uribe, espero que podamos dejar a un lado los odios”: Santos (El Espectador)