Right-wing parties opposed to a peace deal with the FARC won historic elections in Colombia Sunday but fell short of a majority in historic polls that see the former rebels enter the Congress.
The hardliners’ victory raises questions about the future of the peace agreement signed with President Juan Manuel Santos in November 2016.
Santos said the polls were “the safest, most transparent elections” in the country’s recent history, with the FARC spurning jungle warfare for politics, and the ELN — the country’s last active rebel group — observing a ceasefire.
“This is the first time in more than half a century that the FARC, instead of sabotaging the election, are taking part in it,” he said, adding that the ELN had “respected” their ceasefire.
The Centro Democratico party of ex-president and senator Alvaro Uribe, a fierce opponent of the peace agreement, polled the most votes, winning 19 seats in the Senate and 33 in the lower house.
But centrist and leftist parties also polled strongly to deprive the right of a majority.
“There are no big changes, there are adjustments,” Frederic Masse, an expert in armed conflict and the peace process at Externado University, told AFP.
The peace accord with the now-renamed Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) guarantees their new political party 10 of the 280 seats in the new Congress, five in the Senate and five in the Chamber of Deputies.
“It’s the first time in my life that I’ve voted and I do it for peace,” said Pablo Catatumbo, a former FARC commander who was assured a senate seat.
The party uses the same Spanish acronym, which now stands for the Common Alternative Revolutionary Force, and replaced its crossed-rifles insignia with a red rose when it became a political party under the deal.
Opinion polls had given the FARC little chance of adding to its 10 free seats, following a disastrous campaign during which its rebels-turned-politicians were largely drowned out by a tide of public revulsion over crimes committed during the conflict.