Congressional elections were held on Sunday. The Centro Democratico party is alleging electoral fraud. Their full name translates as Central Democrats Strong Hand, Big Heart, but Centro Democratico will do for our purposes.
The fraud they allege seems more plausible than the plot line for Scandal season 2. Though being more plausible than Scandal is not a big ask.
Late on the evening of the election there was a notable change in electoral results. Centro Democratico who had been coming first, swapped placed with the U party, who had been coming third. Centro Democratico thinks fraud is the explanation for this. They claim almost 8,000 voting booths under reported their votes. They also say that on the Caribbean Coast, where we are, they came last in a wide range of booths, causing our untrained eyes the most concern. That’s not really plausible. How they can do so I don’t know, but they estimate that fraud has left them short 250,000 votes.
There’ll be a recount, and an investigation into the Centro Democratico claims.
All this matters for two reasons. First, because if they’re right it would be a serious blow to the credibility of Colombia’s democracy. We’d expect protests. We’re not wild about protests.
Implications for the peace process
Second, Centro Democratico, with Former President Uribe at the helm opposes the peace process with the FARC guerrillas. Uribe’s dad was killed by FARC, and he’s widely understood to have links to the paramilitary groups who they are still fighting. He thinks the ongoing war with FARC can be won without the compromise that peace talks bring.
The results on election night seemed to deliver a (shakier than previous) majority in favour of the peace process. The Economist painted a picture of complexity, where Uribe will be a constant agitator on the subject. That role for him will be all the easier if it’s from a position of increased parliamentary strength and when he can evoke the specter of systematic electoral fraud against him.