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Colombia: Why did the FARC ‘fail’ its first electoral test?

Whilst thousands and thousands went to the polls on Sunday to vote in Colombia’s congressional elections, it was once the picture of 1 person specifically that captured native headlines.

A formally-dressed guy vote casting in a just about empty public corridor, Ivan Marquez would no longer have grabbed a lot consideration had been it no longer for the reality he was once no longer any unusual voter, however previously a high-ranking commander of the FARC riot workforce who was once additionally working for the Senate.

With some 7,000 riot opponents having demobilised and transitioned to a political birthday celebration following the 2016 peace agreement, Marquez was once one of the crucial FARC’s 74 congressional applicants who was once preventing for political exchange by way of the poll field quite than guerrilla war.

However for the rebel-group-turned-political-party, its first electoral check grew to become out to be a failure, in keeping with analysts. 

“Indubitably not anything went as deliberate for the FARC,” mentioned Yann Basset, knowledgeable in electoral politics at L. a. Universidad del Rosario, Bogota.

The FARC failed to pick out up any further seats outdoor the 10 –  5 in each and every of the 108-member Senate and the 172-member decrease area – they had been assured as a part of the peace settlement.

The previous rebels secured not more than zero.21 % of votes within the decrease area and simply zero.34 % within the senate; even not up to preliminary predictions of 1 to 2 %.

Even though their previous was once by no means going to allow them electoral good fortune, analysts consider their specifically deficient effects may lie within the birthday celebration’s lack of ability to rebrand itself, inner problems and the polarised political panorama they to find themselves working in.

marketing campaign

Getting into the political enviornment for the FARC was once by no means going to be simple, analysts say. 

After 52 years enjoying a significant phase in a war that left an estimated 222,000 other people lifeless and greater than seven million displaced, many Colombians would quite have the applicants in the back of bars than a decision at the poll.

At the marketing campaign trial, the gang was once met with rocks and shouts of “murderers”. Lower than two weeks earlier than the election, FARC suspended its campaign over protection considerations.

The FARC say they had been centered by way of orchestrated protests from critics of the peace accord and the Democratic Centre, a right-wing political birthday celebration, however analysts additionally spotlight that the gang is “despised” by way of many in Colombia.

“The FARC is despised by way of the Colombian individuals who have a big want for vengeful justice, because the surveys persistently display,” mentioned Jorge Restrepo, Director of War Research Institute, CERAC.

Their marketing campaign problems had been handiest compounded by way of the truth that the birthday celebration’s presidential hopeful, Rodrigo Londono, higher referred to as ‘Timochenko’, withdrew from the race because of well being considerations.

However, in keeping with Restrepo, cutting down their marketing campaign efforts most certainly had little impact on their electoral effects.

“No one in Colombia was once stunned they were given this sort of rejection,” Restrepo informed Al Jazeera.

“However I don’t believe by way of expanding their public campaigning they might have were given further votes, in any case, they were given a large number of exposure when turning in their guns. It’s merely the weight of violence”.

Sporting the war’s legacy

The FARC’s political ambition was once restricted by way of part a decade of violence however was once additionally exacerbated by way of the gang’s lack of ability to grab a possibility to reinvent itself, analysts additionally say. 

The verdict to retain their acronym by way of converting their identify from Progressive Armed Forces of Colombia to Progressive Choice Commonplace Pressure was once extensively perceived by way of analysts as a grave electoral error or even mocked by way of President Juan Manuel Santos who was once awarded a Nobel Peace Prize for his function within the peace accord.

Analysts additionally consider that the FARC’s resolution to make a choice veterans and commanders over more youthful applicants restricted their talent and good fortune.

“It was once a significant issue for his or her electoral risk that the FARC stored their commanders as applicants”, Restrepo mentioned. “The hot button is that that they had no longer handed throughout the particular justice unit for peace and extra importantly, that they had by no means apologised publicly and rejected the affect in their violence – that is what value them so dearly.”

As well as, analysts consider inner problems, and the reality they already had 10 seats assured, restricted the effectiveness in their marketing campaign.

Basset mentioned the gang was once pressured to run a “defensive marketing campaign” because of inner war round problems akin to dissident rebels and perceived govt disasters to agree to the peace deal.

“They had to consolidate internally to steer clear of to any extent further inner fractures,” Basset added.

“The FARC selected an inward dealing with marketing campaign as it didn’t have many different choices.”

Polarised local weather

Analysts consider the marketing campaign was once additionally overshadowed by way of the hostility in opposition to the 2016 peace settlement and the polarised political local weather it has created. 

The accord was once handed via congress after being rejected in a public vote, and its implementation has since been dogged with controversy and delays, draining its advocates of political improve and fuelling the good fortune of its critics.

Whilst the FARC’s complete political equipment secured a complete of 85,000 votes, the precise’s main peace accord sceptic, Ivan Duque, won a record-breaking 4 million votes in primaries on my own.

His Democratic Centre birthday celebration, based by way of former president and outstanding peace critic, Alvaro Uribe, received 16.41 % of votes within the senate and 16.02 % within the decrease area, making them the most important birthday celebration in a fragmented congress. Radical Exchange – additionally more likely to oppose positive portions of the accord – got here in 2d.

The effects, in keeping with Basset, “replicate the polarisation across the peace settlement with [critics of the peace accord] returning as the most important drive within the nation on one aspect and the growth of the centre-left at the different”.

He added: “Many say that the FARC needed to exchange their discourse, exchange their identify, or attempt to persuade different sectors of society, however I doubt that it could have made a lot distinction.”

Consistent with analysts, it’s now most likely that the FARC will leverage the little improve it does must again some other left-wing coalition who’s “pro-peace”, as the following congress should approve and/or regulate at least 12 remarkable rules relating to the peace deal.

“I shouldn’t have the slightest doubt that they are going to shape a coalition in congress with leftist actions,” mentioned Sandra Borda, head of social sciences at L. a. Universidad de Tadeo, Bogota.

“By myself they don’t seem to be going to succeed in anything else,” she added.

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