With less than a year left before the provincial and local elections, tensions at the historic pact appear to be festering. The leftist platform that brought Gustavo Petro to the presidency will now seek regional power. In October next year, it aims to win 600 mayors and 15 states and elect 3,000 councilors and 600 deputies. These are ambitious figures for a coalition that, along with Casa de Nariño, won an important victory with 2.5 million votes in the legislative elections.
The goal is clear, but the path is not defined. First of all, we have to wait and see how Gustavo Petro’s government progresses and what will be its performance in the next year. A possible recession threatens to harm the national economy and families.
As Petro grapples with this troubling outlook, the divisions in his coalition have become more public. On the other hand, dissatisfaction with sectors such as the Democratic Pole and the Mays Party due to the lack of bureaucratic participation. Although they don’t say it, they are not satisfied and want more play in the closet. The issue has been raised in internal meetings, but the president is evading the matter, according to a source who told SEMANA.
In the regions, the bulk of the bureaucracy is still in the hands of the traditional parties, and this disturbs the Petrista Council, which fears damage against its opponents in 2023. Added to this are the deep differences between Senator Gustavo Bolívar and Senate President Ruy Barreras. The clash comes from the composition of the Senate’s lists and was exacerbated when Petro Barreras was preferred as president of that institution.
Bolívar this week revealed the way candidates for mayors and governors would be chosen, but Barreras, who moves like a fish in water between progressive sectors, contradicted him.
Bolivar believes that in the historical pact no party should give individual endorsements, and whoever wants to be a candidate should outpace other applicants in consultations. Whoever wins will be the charter candidate, but his odds are analyzed. Bolivar said they are looking to see if there is a need to ally with other similar parties, namely the Green Alliance and the Liberal Party, and never the Democratic Center or Radical Change.
He is uncomfortable with the government’s treatment of some progressive sectors and believes that in 2023 the same mistakes that occurred in the legislative elections should not be made.
“That what now happens with the bureaucracy does not happen to the rules of alternative parties with endorsements: to remain in the hands of those who did not fight for the cause, who came to the end, or, worse, who came later.” Bolívar did not name the names, but the addressee was clear: he indicated the Santista line that had gained space for the progressive sectors of the Casa de Nariño and that today speaks in the ear of the president.
Barreras felt that Bolívar’s letter had alluded to it and replied, “We are all in the Pact, including those of liberal descent (proudly a 15-year Santista for Peace in my case).” Ada and the power of peace are the founders and builders of the pact that made possible the victory of a progressive government.” In addition, he spoke of a broad, more open front in which the left and exclusively progressive sectors would not fit.
The fight between Bolivar and Barreras is to rent a balcony. Even if Bolivar resigns from the Senate in March, he will continue to influence regional elections. In fact, the radical left wing of the Historical Pact believes that its presence is necessary in the regions. Barreras, for his part, will have the power to choose candidates for mayor and state. Thanks to his handling of Congress, he gained recognition and became close to Senator María José Pizarro and the Speaker of the Chamber of Deputies, David Rasino, who also spoke to Petro in his ear.
In addition, the National Electoral Council (CNE) is considering the request to transform the Fuerza de la Paz movement, to which Barreras belongs, into a political party. SEMANA knew that this decision would come in his favor within weeks and would give him more decision-making power in the historic charter.
Bolívar and Barreras know that Petro is having its first test in October 2023, with an election that could become a referendum to approve or reject the presidential administration. The new regional power map will also highlight whether the left will have the strength to maintain power in the 2026 presidential election.
The president knows the differences in the historical charter. In fact, he was taught to get over it with long silences. He knows that it is impossible to unite a broad front of progressive forces that start from dissent. For this reason, he insists on converting the historical pact into a single party, with one legal capacity.
The most appropriate decision is the integration and embodiment of the Colombian Progressive Unity. We must learn from the good decisions of the past, such as closed, equal and rotating lists,” Senator María José Pizarro told Semana.
The proposal is attractive, but it is fraught with risks for some parties who consider that they will lose the spaces of power. Some Polo Democrático and Mais leaders will not be willing to give up their legal status, as they will remain under the exclusive Petro umbrella.
There is still no final decision, but Representative Alirio Uribe understands that it is almost impossible for the merger to take place in 2023.
However, if the political reform is approved in May and the control of the Constitutional Court is passed, the article on the one-time transformation will be approved. This would cause members of Polo Democrático and Mais to flee towards Colombia Humana or the party that President Petro eventually managed to form.
The historic charter could end up unified and the closed-list discussion would return. Bogotá councilor Carlos Carrillo believes that in the case of the country’s capital, with more than 2.2 million votes received by Petro in the second presidential round, a closed slate could select nearly a dozen councilors for the city.
The problem is reaching an agreement with the National Committee, which will be responsible for compiling lists closed by departments and municipalities, because those in first place will win. Today, many remember the chaos and rupture that arose in the distribution of seats in the Senate and the House of Representatives.
Another upcoming battle is who will win the Bogota mayoral nomination. Today, there is no weighty dossier in the Historical Pact, and if the political reform does not succeed, the names of Gustavo Bolívar, Clara Lopez, María José Pizarro, David Rachero and Catherine Miranda will remain only in the rattle and will be so. It is necessary to think of a plan B.
Former government minister Guillermo Alfonso Jaramillo and councilor Carlos Carrillo can enlist their aspirations, but the issue is not so simple, because a segment of Petrism believes in the necessity of a union with the Green Alliance. However, those close to Claudia Lopez say she is not willing to support a candidate other than the one she signed up for. In addition, Petrista’s seat on the council is highly critical of the mayor’s administration.
The electoral success of the historic pact will depend on upcoming decisions in the 2023 elections, when regional and local power will be at stake.
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