viernes, 1 de noviembre de 2013

On the Future of the Weakened Colombian Left

The left has allowed itself to be fragmented into smaller pieces, thus lacking the capability to lead a significant portion of people, and the capacity to welcome them into an already torn apart old house.

The elections have come and passed.

My expectations were, sadly to me, not met, and my city has given way to one more term of leftist government.

Or has it?

Colombia has been living an interesting political process over the last few years. Particularly, it has witnessed and produced the death of the two traditional parties: the Liberals and the Conservatives, both being classical representations of the right and the left. At the same time, it has seen the phenomenon spoken of by Sartori: the atomisation of political parties. There are now more political parties than people are able to remember in an election. 

The founding members of these parties have broken off from the traditional parties and have created what they perceive as an alternative to the political style which had(s?) rules the country for decades.

But the problem, as discussed in a previous post, is that all these people feel they are the solution to all the problems of the country, and have presented themselves as messianic saviours who have but taken a few ideas and concepts from either former strong political party and presented them to the people as a new option.

This, of course, begs the question: Are these parties really any new? And are they strong enough to compete in the political arena and vanquish all other competitors?

It has already been established that the Latin American left has forever been a hive of revolutionary ideas, more than a real opposition structure. This fact has shown itself in the very fact that while the right remains identifiable with an icon or a concept, the left has allowed itself to be fragmented into smaller pieces, thus lacking the capability to lead a significant portion of people, and the capacity to welcome them into an already torn apart old house.

But let us turn our gaze for a moment to the city of Bogotá, which has just elected a new mayor. The elected mayor of the city is a former guerrilla fighter who once wielded arms against the state and all its institutions. A man who once took the way of force to make himself heard, one day chose wisely to become a political contender and a public figure in all democratic sense. A man who did time in prison for his crimes, now wears the confidence of about 7% of the city´s electoral force. 

And that precisely is the problem. The amount of people who elected the mayor, combined with the amount of people who voted for all other candidates does not really represent the full force of the electorate in Bogotá.

One may wonder as to why this happened and will always arrive at the same answer: the oppostion is not consolidated.

There is currently no party which can pose a real challenge to central government, in terms of being able to defeat them in the elections, which is really what matters in a democracy like ours. There are many candidates who presume of being the binding factor for all these undecided voters, and each of them produces an interesting electoral result, for an individual, but irrisory for a party. 

Latin American voters are much too used to vote for the face and the history than for the proposals or the governing capability. This means that even though there are some people who have a leftist feel to themselves, there is little they can accomplish by themselves.

The left must learn to unite itself under a single banner and under a single name. It must present a candidate with strong support and high legitimacy, lest it disappears forever vanishing into thin air.

Not that I am a leftist. Never have been. But there is little meaning to democracy or to the very concept of right and left without a real left.

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