Monday, June 21, 2010

Santos gets a mandate

A mandate for what exactly might still be the question, but the 9 million plus votes that Santos got yesterday, better than Uribe in 2006, is a dramatic acceptance of Uribe policies and a desire to keep Colombia in the general road of progress and development that it has experienced in the last 8 years.  Not to mention that the 3 million plus votes of Mockus cannot be qualified at all as an anti Uribe vote.  In fact, the anti Uribe fringes who at the last minute called for abstention cannot claim any success since the abstention grew by barely 4 points, easily attributable to a Sunday where 3 World cup games kept more than a few people at home.

True, there is a lot of unfinished business left by Uribe and Santos is not walking into an easy term, but he gets in Casa de Nariño with a solid consensus on the basic points on where to lead Colombia: continuation of Seguridad Ciudadana, continuation of FTA policies, to which the Mockus vote (and Santos own promises) forces to add more anti corruption actions and more democratic practices.

One thing is certain, Chavez is one of the big losers here.  True, he gets the comfort of someone he can easily insult in Bogota for his local needs, but that is of little value when it is clear that Chavez natural allies from the left are almost irrelevant in Colombia and that instead a strong Center Right country (Center for Mockus, Right for Santos) stands squarely in front of him, as a shining example of economic success just as the Venezuelan boat sinks.

In other words Chavez is facing 4 years of natural anti "XXI century socialism" propaganda next door.  There are enough people at the Venezuelan border to inform the rest of the country that in Colombia there are no shortages, there is less crime, more progress, less censorship than in Venezuela, no matter what screams Chavez makes from Caracas.

Chavez continental project faces a stumbling block bigger than what Uribe was.  The triumphant election of Santos cannot be explained by fraud, cheating, vote buying or whatever, even if some of that may have taken place. On this respect Chavez certainly has/had the financial means to buy more votes than Uribe or Santos ever could buy.  And Chavez did, that is an established fact.  Thus there is an opposite model to Chavez, right next door to him, with similar people, similar climate, similar resources (except of the Venezuelan oil).  Chavismo as a political model for Latin america can only suffer from that comparison for the next 4 years.  The first example might come from Ecuador who in spite of all of its anti Santos posturing might actually restore sooner than later full political and economic relations with Colombia.

Finally two comments.

Great political movements and changes characterize themselves by their ability to ensure their continuation through new leaders and/or new solid institutions. One example was De Gaulle (we commemorate this month the 70th anniversary of his famous BBC London speech where he started his long road to free France from Nazi Germany).  His almost heavy handed take over of France in 1958 with constitutional change included resulted in perhaps the more stable era of French governance since the time of kings.  His departure in 1969 was followed by his partisans retaining power for 12 more years followed by a Socialist alternative of 14 years that satisfied itself with improving the institutions it inherited, preserving the basic model of the Gaullist state.

We can find other such examples in history such as the Spanish transition from Franco to which surely the Uribe transition can be added.  Maybe Uribe wanted to be reelected a third time but institutions prevailed, he was denied a third term and the people chose a suitable heir.  Period.  Contrast this of course with the perennial desire of Chavez to retain office until he dies and his unwillingness to let any apparent heir to appear, allowing to forecast sooner or later the humiliating demise of his regime.

The second side comment is of course that Colombia demonstrated again that paper ballots can be counted way more efficiently and faster than the automated voting in Venezuela by the corrupt and partial CNE.  'nough said!


  1. Up until recently Chavez's project has been expanding both in LA and inside of Venezuela creating a sense of inevitability and of being the wave of the future.

    On the LA level the weakening of his project reached a critical point with the loss of Honduras and its getting another nail in the coffin through the victory of Santos.

    With these 2 examples,the Colombian's success story of emerging from years of civil war and the other example of Venezuela coming from an imperfect democracy into a dictatorial disaster, makes for a stark contrast.

    Inside of Venezuela Chavez is still increasing the extension of his control, but with Santos a reminder that he is not invincible, there is still hope for a change of direction inside of Venezuela.

  2. 1979 Boat People8:59 PM

    Colombia Peso Jumps to 3-Month High on Santos, End to Purchases

    Good start for Santos.

  3. Nur_Ich2:54 AM

    The higher abstencion can also be explained partly by the heavy rains on sunday here in Bogotá and that many didn't go because it was too obvious who will win anyway. Also missing the votes for the other candidates from the first round.


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