Thursday, August 25, 2016

Can the FARC Win Elections?

The announcement of the finalized deal between the Colombian government and the FARC is incredibly important and historic. There is so much to sort out here, but what immediately came to my mind was a question: can the FARC attract any voters?

One of the more controversial parts of the deal are some guaranteed seats in the legislature:

Santos said Wednesday that the rebels will be granted a limited number of seats in Congress through 2018, where they will not have voting rights but can speak on matters pertaining to the implementation of the peace accords. They will be assured a minimum of five seats in Colombia's Senate and five seats in its lower house for two legislative terms starting in 2018. But then they will have to win at the ballot box, Santos said. His opponents have already savaged this concession as an outrageous giveaway to the rebels.

This makes people like me cringe because of the Chilean example (where retired military commanders got appointed senate seats) but at least they are clearly temporary and non-voting.

The more I thought about it, though, the more I liked it. Unlike, say, the FMLN, the FARC has virtually no domestic support. By now, very few Colombians support their ideology. As a result, they have an uphill battle to win voters. I could therefore imagine a scenario where elections were held where the FARC won about very few seats (or none!) which in turn could blow things up (figuratively if not literally). Now the FARC can ease into democratic governance but without unearned power. It will have a chance to engage in debate and win future voters.


RGS 9:55 AM  

It also.might alleviate some fears that immediate campaigning might lead to the killing of FARC candidates like what happened with UP candidates after last attempt to bring guerrillas into democratic process.

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