President Petro’s policies seem to be losing ground per Colombia’s regional elections results. Pending the final vote counts, the results for the governorships in all 32 Colombian departments indicate that the vast majority will be held by opposition candidates. Only 3 regions have elected governors affiliated with political forces close to the government’s coalition, Pacto Historico, led by President Petro: Magdalena, Amazonas, and Nariño.
The governorships confirm what the results in Colombia’s major mayoralties already suggested: the 2023 regional elections have been a significant defeat for candidates supported by the political force of the country’s president. Pacto Historico is a coalition of 13 parties and has been supporting the Colombian president since 2022.
The Pendulum Theory Confirmed
As is customary in politics, these elections once again confirm the pendulum theory. After the historic victory of the left in the presidential elections last year and reasonably good results in the legislative elections of the same year, the local mayoral and gubernatorial elections have turned their back on the ruling party.
The left will not only fail to govern any of the country’s top 5 major cities—Bogota, Medellin, Cali, Barranquilla, and Bucaramanga—but will also not control the leading regional governorships. Except for Magdalena, where the former mayor of the capital, Santa Marta, Rafael Martínez, represents a victory for progressive continuity in the region, and the Amazonas and Nariño, with Óscar Sánchez and Luis Escobar, respectively, the remaining governorships will continue to be held by the opposition to the national government.
This way, regional power is shifting away from the left, which gained ground in the elections four years ago as a prelude to its victory in the 2023 presidential elections. Given this, and pending confirmation of participation data, today’s results also indicate a sense of disillusionment among a significant portion of the Colombian electorate. Lower voter turnout compared to 2019 and an increase in blank votes attest to this sentiment.