Jueves, 27 de octubre de 2016

| 2010/06/24 00:00

Too much continuity?

THE ECONOMIST--Juan Manuel Santos (pictured) was elected as the heir to a popular incumbent. His hardest task will be correcting Álvaro Uribe’s excesses.

Too much continuity?

There were no surprises this time. In the first round of Colombia’s presidential election on May 30th, Juan Manuel Santos, the former defence minister of the current president, Álvaro Uribe, took 47% of the vote—making fools of opinion pollsters who had him tied with Antanas Mockus, who got just 22%. The run-off on June 20th duly turned into a formality: Mr Santos won 69% of the vote and will have a strong mandate once he becomes president on August 7th.

Mr Santos campaigned as the next-best thing to his popular predecessor, who was blocked by the constitution from running for a third term. In eight years, Mr Uribe transformed Colombia from a nearly failed state into a safer and more prosperous country. He crushed leftist guerrillas and demobilised right-wing paramilitaries, reducing violence and restoring business confidence. Mr Santos could claim some of the credit for these successes. He also promised to sustain economic growth, having served as both trade and finance minister in previous governments. Mr Mockus, a former mayor of Bogotá, has no experience of national office and was undone by gaffes.

Mr Santos said in his victory speech that his win was also Mr Uribe’s. He plans to keep his predecessor as a “permanent adviser”, although Mr Uribe may run for mayor of Bogotá. On paper, Mr Santos will have an easier time getting legislation through Congress than the outgoing president did: his coalition, led by Mr Uribe’s U Party, holds 73% of the lower house and 70% of the Senate. But thanks to Mr Uribe, Colombia now faces far different problems than it did in 2002. Indeed, some of the trickiest were of Mr Uribe’s own making.

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