Colombia Election Analysis Event

On Wednesday 27th June, Canning House held an event to discuss the results of the Colombian presidential elections. On 17th June, Iván Duque of the right-wing Centro Democrático became Colombia’s president-elect, winning 53.9% of the vote in the run-off against Gustavo Petro. Petro nonetheless did better than any other left-wing candidate in Colombia’s recent history, collecting 41.8% of the vote in the second round.

Canning House welcomed a panel of experts to discuss what lies ahead for the country: Maria Luisa Puig, Senior Analyst for Latin America at Eurasia Group; Néstor Castañeda, from UCL’s Institute of the Americas; and Louise Winstanley, Programme and Advocacy Manager at ABColombia, as chair.

Ian Perrin welcomed speakers and the audience on behalf of Canning House. Louise Winstanley then summarised the results of the election and introduced the speakers.

In their presentations, Maria Luisa Puig and Néstor Castañeda discussed the general context of the elections, the challenges faced by the incoming administration, and in particular the key economic issues that Duque will have to contend with. Duque’s campaign benefited from the support of former president Alvaro Uribe, but the president-elect is a new politician, and therefore represents a change from the established parties that have been tarnished by corruption scandal. Nevertheless, he will find it hard to advance his agenda, in spite of a multiparty coalition giving him a majority in congress. Amongst the many challenges that the new administration will face are security issues, namely the future of the peace agreement with the FARC, and economic questions, particularly economic growth, fiscal sustainability and pension reform.

Louise Winstanley then moderated questions from the audience. These covered a wide range of issues, including the question of Colombia’ foreign policy, and particularly its response to the Venezuelan crisis; what changes Duque might actually make to the peace agreement; and to what extent the new president will be dependent on Uribe to govern.

To view Néstor Castañeda’s presentation on economic challenges, click here.