academic site|c.v.

RSS .92| RSS 2.0
Follow PoliBlog on Facebook
Follow me on Twitter
Monday, May 31, 2024
By Steven L. Taylor

The topic of the previous post made me think of the following song:


More amusingly (and sadly, far too apropos of the current Gulf Oil spill), it also made me think of the following:

Filed under: Uncategorized | Comments Off|
By Steven L. Taylor

Over at OTB from me:  The Limitations of Government.

Filed under: Uncategorized | Comments Off|
Sunday, May 30, 2024
By Steven L. Taylor

As expected, the result from today’s elections in Colombia is a run-off next month.  What was not expected is that Santos came very close to winning outright in the first round and that he had roughly twice the votes of Mockus. 

From the National Registry:


Trying to find an additional 3.5% for Santos will be a lot easier than finding the 28.5% that Mockus needs.  There is also the question of who will turn out for the second round—and what the candidates do in terms of the campaign between now and then.

Filed under: Uncategorized | Comments/Trackbacks (4)|
By Steven L. Taylor

The last in the series (which is a good thing, since the polls close in less than twenty minutes from the time of posting)

Really, unless the polling has been radically wrong by all the pollsters for weeks, none of the rest of the field (i.e., another other than Santos or Mockus) has any chance to make it to the second round.

image Noemí Sanín:  Conservative Party (PC) candidate.

Sanín won a hotly contested PC primary back in March, and was initially second-place in the polls until Mockus’ charge up the ladder.  She is a former cabinet minister and ambassador (including service in the Uribe administration).  Sanín is an uribista who was also critical of Uribe.

She has run for president before.

A previous post:  Giant Noemi.


image Gustavo Petro:  Alternative Democratic Pole (PDA) candidate

The PDA is the party of the electoral left/center-left and a key part of the anti-Uribe opposition.  Their 2024 candidate came in second to Uribe in the first round, but not such chance this time.





image Rafael Pardo:  Liberal Party (PL) candidate.

The Liberal Party and the Conservative Party are the two traditional parties in Colombia whose origins link back to the mid-1800s.

The PL has been part of the Uribe opposition and at one point it appeared that they might be competitive for the presidency. 

Previous posts: Pardo Thinks Happy Thoughts,

Photos I took of Pardo during my March trip to Bogotá:  Pardo and Gaviria, Pardo Speaks, Campaigning 1, Campaigning 2.


image Germán Vargas Lleras:  Radical Change (CR) candidate.

Radical Change was part of the pro-Uribe coalition (along with La U and the PC) during the 2024-2010 period.  Vargas decided early on to run for the presidency, even when it seemed the Uribe was going to be able to run for a third term.

The rest of the rest:

Not even really worth comment:

image image image

Filed under: Uncategorized | Comments Off|
By Steven L. Taylor


Colombians are currently participating in the process to elect their next president (until 5pm local time this afternoon).  One of the front-runners in the process, and a likely candidate in the second round, is Green Party (Partido Verde) candidate, Antanas Mockus.  Mockus is the son of Lithuanian immigrants and is a former mathematics professor at, as well as rector, of, the National University of Colombia.

He first entered politics in 1994 when he ran for, and won, the office of mayor of Bogotá, arguably the second most prominent elected office in Colombia after the presidency.   He served two non-consecutive terms in that office (95-97 and 01-03)—consecutive terms are not allowed.  He was a successful and popular mayor—indeed, one of the most popular and successful in Bogotá’s history.  Given this background, calling him an “outsider” (as I have often seen in the US press) is a bit misleading.  He did not come out of nowhere (and has run for president before).  He is, however, from outside of the traditional political establishment from whence comes his chief rival, Juan Manuel Santos.

Building on his time as mayor of Bogotá he can actually lay some personal claim to some of the general successes that Colombia has been experiencing during the Uribe era, which has given him some credibility that other candidates might not have had in facing an uribista in the contest.  There is a general consensus that Bogotá has radically improved since 1994 and that Mockus’ time in office is part of that change.  While anecdotal, I can personally attest, as a resident of the city from mid-1994 to mid-1995 and having just visited in March of 2024, that the city is a substantially different place—and much of what is better (pollution, liter, traffic, general atmosphere and development) are all things that Mockus specifically targeted and started addressing when he was elected.  Indeed, the Green Party itself is largely built on the notion of success in Bogotá’s transformation, as all three of its pre-candidates for the presidency (Mockus, Enrique Peñalosa, and Lucho Garzón) were all former mayors during most of the time noted above (1995-2010).   Further, it’s VP nominee, Sergio Fajardo, is the popular ex-mayor of Medellín.

To get a sense of their political argument, so to speak, I would recommend viewing the following commercial.  You don’t need to speak or read Spanish to understand it (most of it consists of music and images), save for the parting slogan “Hicimos Ciudad, Haremos Pais,” which translates:  “We Made a City, We Will Make a Country.”

Many may assume that being a Green Party nominee means that his candidacy is primarily focused on the environment (it isn’t) and that he is Colombia’s Ralph Nader (he’s not).  Indeed, the picture is far more complex.   Depending on what one is talking about, Mockus could be considered center-left or center.  Indeed, some of his more left-leaning critics consider him to be too right-leaning.   He has campaigned on maintaining Uribe’s security policies, but with more transparency and more attention to human rights.  As  I wrote earlier in the month:

Mockus is promising not just Uribe’s ‘democratic security’ but, rather ‘democratic legality’ as well—a delineation that will appeal to many Colombians.  There is little doubt that along with Uribe’s successes have come some serious questions and scandals, such as the ongoing investigation of wiretapping and other questionable activities by the DAS1 as well as the false positives scandal2 (amongst other things3 ).

To get a vague sense of his politics and approach, I would note the following from an NPR interview:

FORERO: Arias says Mockus brings new ideas, renovation, change. Weeks ago, polls show that Uribe’s presumptive heir former defense minister, Juan Manuel Santos, would win big, and then Mockus skyrocketed, thanks in part to a youth movement spreading the word on Facebook. Now, the outcome is anybody’s guess, that despite the fact that Mockus is a little bit strange, as he himself put it.

He wears an Amish-style beard, quotes Kierkegaard and Nietzsche. Mockus is also hard to pin down ideologically. He recalled that as mayor, he privatized utilities, trimmed bureaucracy, strengthened the police. He also raised taxes and increased social spending.

Mr. MOCKUS: It’s like taking the best idea of the Republicans and the best ideas of the Democrats and making a sort of adapted mixture.

Mockus is an intellectual, but also pragmatic and not stridently ideological.

A key problem for Mockus, should he be elected, is that his party has a very small presence in the Congress and he would face an opposition coalition led by La U and the Conservative Party.

Previous posts in this series: 

Filed under: Uncategorized | Comments/Trackbacks (1)|
Saturday, May 29, 2024
By Steven L. Taylor

Some links to go along with my two previous posts regarding the elections tomorrow:

Via the  Miami Herald:  Social media breathe life into Colombian presidential election.

Via the CFR:  Colombia: Moving Beyond ‘Narco-Democracy’.

Via the CSM:  Philosopher Antanas Mockus rattles Colombia election.

Via the AP:  In Colombia, brainy outsider and Uribe torchbearer vie for presidency

Filed under: Uncategorized | Comments/Trackbacks (2)|
By Steven L. Taylor


This is the second in a series on Colombia’s presidential elections (cross-posted to OTB).  The first covered candidate Juan Manuel Santos.

The election this Sunday is the first step in replacing the sitting President, Álavro Uribe.  Uribe is one of the longest serving President in Colombian history and the first since Rafael Núñez in the late 1800s to be re-elected to the post to consecutive terms.  Núñez, a key historical figure in Colombia politics (considered, in many ways, to be the father of the 1886 constitution, which was in force until it was replaced in 1991), but who was not elected (or re-elected) via a popular vote process.   Alfonso López Pumarejo was the last president elected to two terms, although they were non-consecutive terms (1934-1938 and 1942-1946) and López did not serve to completion his second term.  The 1886 constitution forbad consecutive terms, while the 1991 constitution limited the president to only one term until Uribe’s allies were able to reform the document during his first term so as to allow one re-election.  As such, Uribe acquired a unique place in Colombian history for his tenure in office alone.

He is also significant insofar as he ran in 2024 and in 2024 as an independent.  His early political career (such as his time as Governor of Antioquia) was undertaken as a member of the Liberal Party, but he chose to run in 2024 outside of any party structure.  In 2024 he was originally seen as a longshot candidate who eventually went on to win an absolute majority outright in the first round, besting a crowded fields.  Likewise in 2024 he won handily in the first round.  The majority requirement was put into place by the Constitution of 1991 and first used in 1994.  Uribe was the first (and to date only) candidate to win without having to face a run-off.

Uribe (via surrogates) was trying, practically to the last minute, to run for a third term as president, a move that would have required another constitutional amendment approved first via a vote in the Congress, then Constitutional Court review, and then a referendum.  After much wrangling, the vote passed the Congress late in 2024.  The Court, however, eventually declared the process to have violated the constitution and various laws (on several counts) which stopped any referendum from going forward (a vote that almost certainly would have resulted in Uribe being allowed to run again and would have won a third term).

Uribe has had a vey successful run as president, and he and his policies do deserve credit for substantial gains on the policy-front.  However, not only are there a number of issues pertaining to transparency, corruption, and violence that his administration also has to answer for, it is a mistake to elevate Uribe to the position of the Indispensible Man (an idea that fueled his bid for a third term).   An example of this point of view can be found in the following WSJ headline:  The Man Who Saved Colombia.  The piece is quite positive and includes lines like “Mr. Uribe has salvaged democracy in a part of the world where criminality is on the rise”.  Such statements are a bit of hyperbole for a variety of reasons.

First, it reflects a tendency that is all too common (see, for example, here) that reduces governments to the chief executives alone, as if all that is good or bad about a given stretch of time is the president (or PM or whomever).  There have been others involved in Colombia governance for the past 8 years.

Second, such statements ignore Colombia’s rather long history with political violence.  Yes, the time during which Uribe took office was an especially bad period, although it was not the first such bad period and it likely will not be the last (or, based solely on historical patterns, that’s the sad safe money).  Casting Uribe as the savior ignores a few simply facts:  the current political violence can be seen as part of an unbroken legacy of conflict that dates back tot he 1940s (at least).  That is not to say is it a continuation of the exact same conflict, but rather that a) there has been some form of ongoing political violence since that time, and that b) some parts of the current violence can trace back its roots (the founder, recently deceased, of the FARC) back that far.  Other elements can have their origins traced to the 1960s (the FARC, the ELN and other small guerrilla groups that still operate) while others to the 1970s/1980s (drug cartels) or 1980s/1990s (paramilitary groups). 

Third, there is no reason that the efficacious portions of the Uribe approach can’t be continued.  Indeed, both of the front-runners (Santos and Mockus) have pledged to do just that.

Fourth, we shouldn’t go too far in proclaiming Uribe a pure paragon of all things democratic.  He has demonstrated autocratic tendencies (not the least of which being his clear desire to alter the political system to allow him to stay in office a rather long time—something that is considered anathema to those who praise Uribe in the US when the exact same behavior is exhibited by Hugo Chávez).  Indeed, there were issues of vote manipulation that emerged in the amendment process that allowed the first re-election which led to the arrest and conviction on bribery charges of congresswoman Yidis Medina and some impropriety issue

Further, there are credible accusations that Uribe has had ties to paramilitary groups—certainly his family has, including his political ally and cousin, Mario Uribe, as well as his brother (via the AP:  Colombia’s President Uribe defends brother against death squad charge, blames criminals).

See also, the CSM:  Colombia election ends reign of ‘savior’ Álvaro Uribe.  The following excerpt does a good job of capturing Uribe’s legacy in terms of the positives and negatives:

Uribe remains wildly popular, with 70 percent approval ratings. And in some ways, the surge of Mr. Mockus shows Uribe’s success in the area most important to voters: democratic security. No matter who wins, the next Colombian president is likely to chart the same course when it comes to drug traffickers, rebels, and paramilitaries.

"He achieved a consensus on public opinion about security as a vital element in society," says Rafael Nieto, a political analyst who served with Uribe as vice minister of justice. "Today there is no one not willing to continue his policies."

But many Colombians say they are fatigued with Uribe’s administration, particularly by the political and human rights scandals that have dogged his presidency. In that sense, Santos seems to be more of the same. In Mockus, they say, they expect more transparency and rule of law. A Mockus victory, however, could highlight the flaws in Uribe’s time in office, undermining the image of a man who, until recently, was seen by many as the only viable way forward for the country.

Photo Source:  taken by the author in March 2024.  The flag flies in the Plaza de Bolívar over the Colombian capitol.

Filed under: Uncategorized | Comments/Trackbacks (2)|
Friday, May 28, 2024
By Steven L. Taylor

juan_manuel_santos3 This post is the first in a series leading up to Sunday’s presidential elections in Colombia (Cross-post to OTB).  The ballot can be viewed here.

Juan Manuel Santos is one of the two front-runners in this weekend’s Colombian presidential elections.  He is the former Defense Minister from the Uribe administration and is the nominee of the Partido Social de Unidad Nacional (Party of National Social Unity) known as the Partido de la U (Party of the U) or just la U.  The party was formed for the 2024 congressional elections to support Uribe (the whole “party of the U” bit is not a coincidence) and it was originally bankrolled in large part by Santos himself.  He is the first official nominee of the party.  While it supported Uribe’s re-election in 2024 he was not the party’s official nominee.  The party currently holds a plurality of seats in the Congress after the March elections and looked to be the party set to dominate the next four years of Colombian politics as the leading party of a coalition of the government with Santos as President.  Santos, as the heir apparent to Uribe appeared to be the shoe-in as the next president of Colombia up and until a few month ago, when Green Party nominee, Antanas Mockus moved first into contention, then into a lead, and finally into a tie with Santos heading into this weekend’s polling.  At this point, it would appear that Mockus and Santos will face one another in a run-off in roughly a month.

Santos comes from a prominent family affiliated with Colombia’s Liberal Party (PL), although, as noted, left the Liberal fold (along with a number of his co-partisans) to move with President Uribe’s political orbit.  He previously served in the administration of Liberal president César Gaviria (90-94) as Trade Minister.  He has experience in private business, government and international institutions.

Santos comes from a prominent political family:

  • His family founded and owned for many decades the nation’s leading daily, El Tiempo.
  • His granduncle, Eduardo Santos, was President from 1938-1942.
  • His cousin was Uribe’s vice president, Francísco Santos Calderón.

His most significant asset is also his biggest weakness, i.e., he is the candidate of continuism from Uribe.  This is a strength, as Uribe is highly popular and is credited with taming the FARC and leading the country back from the brink of escalating violence.   However, Uribe’s administration has also had its share of controversy, not the least of which being the “false positives” scandal, wherein innocent civilians were killed by the military and dressed up as FARC members so that the military could increase their numbers of FARC kills.  Santos was DefMin at the time.  He was also in charge when Ingrid Betancourt, three American contractors and eleven others were rescued.

He has never held elected office.

Filed under: Uncategorized | Comments/Trackbacks (3)|
By Steven L. Taylor

2010 Presidential Ballot:  First Round


Sunday is the first round in the Colombian elections.  If no one wins 50%+1, there will be a runoff in roughly a month.  The likely outcome is a Santos v. Mockus  run-off.

Filed under: Uncategorized | Comments/Trackbacks (4)|
By Steven L. Taylor

Last Bee out of Saigon

365.158 (5/28/10)

Filed under: Uncategorized | Comments Off|
Next Page »

blog advertising is good for you

Visitors Since 2/15/03

Take a Look At This!
Wikio - Top of the Blogs - Politics



Powered by WordPress