Latin America’s Shifting Politics: The Peace Process and Colombia’s Elections

Issue Date October 2018
Volume 29
Issue 4
Page Numbers 54-64
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The 2016 peace accords with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) ended a fifty-year armed conflict, significantly reduced violence, and enhanced Colombia’s democracy. Yet a candidate whose main promise was to dismantle the agreements—conservative one-term senator Iván Duque—won the 2018 presidential elections. How did this happen? Party-system deinstitutionalization and polarization around the peace process hindered centrist candidates on both the left and the right. It pushed extreme right- and left-wing populists—Duque and Gustavo Petro, respectively—into the runoff. In this second round, the Venezuelan crisis tipped the scale against the leftist candidate. Supporters successfully presented Duque as the lesser of two evils. Scared that Colombia would suffer Venezuela’s fate, a majority of citizens voted against Petro.