Former President Alvaro Uribe is the big winner of Colombia’s congressional election. The former head of state was the first to secure a congressional seat and his new party is close to being the largest in the Senate.
With this latest electoral victory, Uribe has once again made history. After becoming the first president to serve a second term under Colombia’s 1991 constitution, he will now become the first former president to serve in Colombia’s Senate as the leader of its second largest faction.
With over 97% of the votes counted, Uribe’s Democratic Center Party (Centro Democratico-CD) almost outperformed the U Party (Partido de la U) of President Juan Manuel Santos, which lost more than half of its electoral support. The U Party managed to remain the biggest party in the Senate, but just by one seat.
The Democratic Center received just under 15% of the votes for the senate, while a little less than 16% went to the U Party.
Colombia has not seen a newcomer party enter Congress with such force since 2006, when President Juan Manuel Santos’ U Party premiered with 17.3%.
The former President was once a Santos ally. In fact, Santos formed his U Party originally to support Uribe almost a decade ago and served as various ministers in Uribe’s two administrations between 2002 to 2010.
However, following Santos’ election in 2010, the two politicians rapidly grew apart.
Santos appointed political enemies of Uribe to his cabinet while the prosecutor general, appointed by the court from Santos’ shortlist, actively brought prosecutions against Uribe allies for their alleged ties to paramilitary groups and other acts of corruption.
When in 2012, Santos announced to begin formal peace talks with the country’s largest rebel group, the FARC, Uribe openly turned against his successor and became Colombia’s most vociferous opponent of peace talks.
If the former president refuses to join Santos’ coalition, which seems likely at this point, the Democratic Center will become to biggest opposition party in both the House and Senate, threatening any second term goals that Santos might want to achieve, assuming he wins re-election in May.