viernes, 1 de noviembre de 2013

On Election Time Alliances and Loyalty Shifts

One more time, let us discuss the mayor elections in Bogotá.

This week, a long foreseen event finally took place, however painfully and slowly as clearly anticipated. Two of the candidates have decided to create an alliance to run together for the main office in the city. This did not come as a surprise. In fact, it was long delayed and overdue.

The cause behind this alliance was quite clear. Both candidates advocated for policies which appealed to a mass of historically undecided electors. Now, before explaining the nuts and bolts of the alliance, let us look at the electors who are the target of it.

Their undecisive character is a by-product from weariness generated by traditional political parties´ policies. A group of people who wanted, at one point, to create an objective third political party which could offer an alternative to the traditional parties. This desire, a rather rational one in a time of academic and ideology renewal, was carried away by some of those who undertook it. The natural consequence is, then, not a single third party but a myriad of them, each presenting different ideas and approaches to the same problem. Thus the initial problem, that of insatisfactory proposals, is not solved, but maximized.
People belonging to electoral minorities, i.e. women(in some unfortunate cases) and young students are usually attracted to this line of thought. They will naturally want to change things around and come up with different ways to take on political and social challenges which include them in a preponderant role. The mindset permeating such thoughts is that some problems are not being properly addressed because the ruling class does not understand them, and so it becomes necessary for other kind of people to take on this responsibility.
But then, in their endeavor to find themselves in this convoluted political arena, among the plethora of newly formed, usually short-lived parties, the undecided become more so. In electoral terms, the problem this poses is their ever increasing number. 

For the reasons explained above, some candidates with either a common procedence with the dissidents from the traditional parties, or an affinity with their sentiment, seek to appeal to them and unify them under a single banner: that with their name on it. This constant exercise on the part of the candidates usually forces them to change their policies and proposals, as well as shift their loyalties according to the leading trend. 

Now, having explained the origin of the undecisive voters, let us return to the recent alliance. 

The candidates who sealed their alliance this week come from different political and social backgrounds, none of which were aligned with the traditional, polarised parties. One of them has always been known as an educator, and a revolutionary one at that. The other comes from the upper end of society, having always known wealth and academic achievement. Each of them individually appeals to different ends of the undecisive pile. By running against each other, they further divided the group, securing less votes for each one and pushing public office away, along with the possibility of doing anything worthwhile from within the system.

The alliance seeks to bring voters together for a single cause. It seeks to unify them under a name, representing their interests and their hopes for government. This is not negative and for those who support democratic process, it is the epitome of how it should work. 

The problem it suffers from is essential, not structural. The policies it brings to the table are generally over optimistic, reasonally unfathomable and nearly impossible to carry out. It accomplishes its goal partially: to give undecided voters a clear option. But it fails to secure office.

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