Saturday, February 27, 2024
By Steven L. Taylor

In reading through some of the US coverage of the aftermath of the Colombian Constitutional Court’s ruling that stopped any chance of a third term for Álvaro Uribe, I have noted a mini-theme.

The LAT: “ The highly anticipated ruling comes before a presidential election scheduled for May 30, opening the way to an exciting, compressed campaign with no clear front-runner.”

The AP:  “What Colombia lacks is a front-runner…”

I think that this is an inaccurate characterization.  What the race now lacks is a prohibitive favorite, which Uribe would have been had he been able to run.  While it is true that in a recent poll Santos only received 12.1% (which was top in that poll), but that was in a very crowded list of 14 candidates (plus “not sure”).  He also led polls in July and September in a list of 17 candidates (plus “not sure”), the polls aren’t the issue, per se.  The fact of the matter is that Uribe and his “democratic security” policies remain quite popular.  Juan Manuel Santos is the clear and natural heir to that current of Colombian politics, and as such has to be considered the front-runner as a result.

Further, if the race makes it to a second round, voters who may have gone with Cambio Radical, the Conservatives and a lot of Liberals1 will likely migrate to Santos.

If there is a second round, it will probably be between Santos, as the heir to Uribe, versus a candidate of the center-left, such as independent Sergio Fajardo or the PDA’s Gustavo Petro.   And, at this point, it seems more likely it would be Fajardo than Petro.

As such, the Latin American Herald-Tribune gets it closer to right than the papers noted above:  “Santos is as close as there is to a front-runner” and Reuters hits the nail on the head:  “The race for Colombia’s presidency began Saturday, with former defense minister Juan Manuel Santos the favorite.”

  1. Indeed, Santos comes from a prominent Liberal family and Uribe was once a member of the PL.  Indeed, Santos’ granduncle, Eduardo Santos, was a Liberal President of Colombia from 1938-1942.  Further, the Santos family used to own El Tiempo, long known as a Liberal paper—especially in the earlier part of the 20th Century when Colombian papers were quite partisan. []
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3 Responses to “No Front Runner in the Colombian Presidential Campaign?”

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    1. Mike de la Loyola Says:

      It will be interesting to see the polling now – I haven’t put a lot of stock in the “Trial Heat Without Uribe” polls — I think most likely voters have assumed Uribe would run, making these polls pretty worthless. Now that we are in a U-free world, I will be extremely interested to see if/how the polls change.

    2. Steven L. Taylor Says:


      I think that that is correct–it will matter now that it is certain Uribe is not running and that Santos is.

    3. Vicente Duque Says:

      Limitations to the Power of Rulers : Absolutism and Despotism : Montesquieu, Montaigne, and La Boétie – Glory of Ancient French Political Philosophy

      The Colombian Constitutional Court forbids further discussions in the future for all presidents about prolonging their mandates, as Anti-Constitutional, Opposed to the Laws, and against Tradition, History and Customs.

      The President of Colombia Alvaro Uribe and his Congress have subjected and submitted to the power of the Constitutional Court.

      And the most intellectual newspapers and magazines resurrect the Glories of Ancient France : Montesquieu, Montaigne, and La Boétie.

      Montesquieu (1689 – 1755) is the theoretician of “Separation of Powers” : Executive, Legislative and Judiciary. But there were two Great French Philosophers of Political Theory before him.

      With Help from Wikipedia, let us study these two Great Men – I extract very few excerpts from long articles in that wonderful Encyclopedia :

      Étienne de La Boétie (1530 – 1563) :

      La Boétie was a French judge, writer, political philosopher and friend of Montaigne, author of the Discourse on Voluntary Servitude (Discours de la servitude volontaire)

      He served with Montaigne in the Bordeaux parlement and is immortalized in Montaigne’s essay on friendship. La Boétie’s writings include a few sonnets, translations from the classics, and an essay attacking absolute monarchy and tyranny in general, Discours de la servitude volontaire ou le Contr’un (Discourse on Voluntary Servitude, or the Anti-Dictator).

      The essay asserts that tyrants have power because the people give it to them. Liberty has been abandoned once by society, which afterward stayed corrupted and prefers the slavery of the courtesan to the freedom of one who refuses to dominate as he refuses to obey. Thus, La Boétie linked together obedience and domination, a relationship which would be later theorised by latter anarchist thinkers. By advocating a solution of simply refusing to support the tyrant, he became one of the earliest advocates of civil disobedience and nonviolent resistance.

      It was once thought, following Montaigne’s claims, that La Boétie wrote the essay in 1549 at the age of eighteen but recent authorities argue that it is “likely that the Discourse was written in 1552 or 1553, at the age of twenty-two, while La Boétie was at the university.”[2] The essay was circulated privately and not published until 1576 after La Boétie’s death. He died at Germignan near Bordeaux in 1563. His last days are described in a long letter from Montaigne to his own father.

      Michel Eyquem de Montaigne (1533 – 1592) :

      Montaigne had a direct influence on writers the world over, including René Descartes[2], Blaise Pascal, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Friedrich Nietzsche, Stefan Zweig, Eric Hoffer[3], Isaac Asimov, and perhaps William Shakespeare (see section “Related Writers and Influence” below).

      The spirit of freely entertaining doubt which began to emerge at that time. He is most famously known for his skeptical remark, ‘Que sais-je?’ (‘What do I know?’). Remarkably modern even to readers today, Montaigne’s attempt to examine the world through the lens of the only thing he can depend on implicitly — his own judgment — makes him more accessible to modern readers than any other author of the Renaissance.[citation needed] Much of modern literary non-fiction has found inspiration in Montaigne and writers of all kinds continue to read him for his masterful balance of intellectual knowledge and personal story-telling.

      The Future of Foreign Policies :

      Vicente Duque

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