Monday, June 16, 2014

Santos's Second-Term Debts

Pres. Santos looking leftward for his second term.
Pres. Santos won a second term despite his own lackluster campaigning.

He has lots of unlikely allies to thank for his victory - and now he'll be expected to pay them back. As a result, many of Santos's second-term policies are already set, and out of his hands.

FARC Guerrilla fighters wave rifles.
The FARC guerrillas clearly gave Santos the nod by advancing the peace talks during the last weeks of the campaign. (And so did the ELN guerrillas by announcing peace talks just before the second round vote.)

Santos made the peace talks his campaign's central plank, and if a peace deal doesn't happen, then Santos will seem to have betrayed his leftist supporters and his second term will look like a failure.

However, the pressure to reach a peace accord could weaken the government's bargaining hand.

Santos's victory means Petro para rato.
Bogotá Mayor Gustavo Petro, whose ouster from office Santos signed a few months ago (and whom Santos put back into office a month later) sent his top staffers into the streets to campaign for Santos. Bogotá went handily for Santos and helped give him victory.

As a result, don't expect Santos to sign any more ousters of Petro anytime soon.

Polo Democratico/Union Patriotica presidential
candidate Clara Lopez.
The whole political Left will be presenting a bill to Santos for their surprising and surprisingly energetic support.

Clara Lopez, who got 15% of the vote in the first round as candidate for the Polo Democratico and Union Patriotica, even made TV commercials endorsing 'Santos and peace.' She will insist on the peace negotiations continuing. In one of her commercials, Lopez also mentioned free university education. Let's see if that enters Santos's agenda.

Bogotá's big vote helped put Santos over the top.
Bogotá turned out big and helped hand Santos his reelection. Will that now mean more central government infrastructure investment in the city? Even better would be strong policy initiatives. But that could generate conflicts with Mayor Petro, who seems to prefer to do next to nothing.

By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours

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