In the last Congressional vote on the subject, Colombia’s Senate
approved the political reform as sought by the government, including
the ’empty seat’ that forbids parties to replace lawmakers under
The ’empty seat solution’ was invented by the administration of Alvaro Uribe to force political parties to take responsibility for those who end up in their benches in Congress. They are now no longer allowed to replace a ‘dirty senator’ unless he dies, is physically incapacitated or resigns justly and with approval of Congress.
The political reform aims to eliminate criminal or paramilitary influence in Congress that saw more than seventy of its lawmakers dismissed and resign after the Prosecutor General’s Office investigated them on suspicion of ‘parapolitics’, making strategic ties to paramilitary death squads to secure the politician’s way to Congress.
The law however is not retroactive and the replacements of those lawmakers now being investigated for ‘parapolitics’ or any other crime can keep their seat.