FARC hopes to win big in Colombian congressional elections

World Today

COLOMBIA-ELECTION-PARLIAMENTARY-CALARCA Luis Alberto Alban Urbano, aka Marcos Calarca, deputy candidate for the Common Alternative Revolutionary Force (FARC) political party, arrives at a polling station in Cali, Valle del Cauca Department, during parliamentary elections in Colombia on March 11, 2018. (AFP PHOTO / Luis ROBAYO)

Polls have closed and votes are being counted in Colombia. The historic congressional elections come roughly two-years after members of the FARC rebel group signed a peace deal with the government. Now a political party, former FARC members want to hold national office.

CGTN’s Michelle Begue reports from Bogota.

In signing a peace agreement ending 50 years of armed conflict, the FARC rebel group abandoned civil war for politics. The 2016 agreement guarantees them 10 congressional seats overall: five in the house and five in the Senate.

In the March 11 Congressional elections, however, the party aimed higher, fielding 74 different candidates.

“This will be very symbolic for the Colombian people, to no longer see the FARC trying to sabotage elections, killing police officers burning voting booths, and instead participating in democracy,” political analyst Luis Celis explained.

Around 36 million Colombians were eligible to vote for 102 Senate seats and another 166 seats in the House of Representatives. Unlike other countries in the region, Colombia holds Congressional elections on a different day than the presidential vote, which will be in May.

This leads some to view the legislative elections as an indicator of what could ultimately happen in the presidential race.

“The majority of analysts are hypothesizing that Congress will be dominated by the right-winged parties,” analyst Jorge Gaitan Villegas said. “This doesn’t necessarily determine the president because there is still a huge uncertainty about the results of the presidential race in May.”

With a potential shift in power, both in the congressional and presidential elections, Villegas believes the races amount to a referendum on the future implementation of the peace deal.

“There are more issues to talk about than the taking apart of this peace deal. But unfortunately, that is what is at stake, because we will know who has the true power.”

Colombians will also have an opportunity to vote in two interparty consultations to choose a presidential candidate who will run in the first round on May 27.