A left-wing tide has supposedly been sweeping Latin America. But Alvaro Uribe’s re-election in Colombia may not only have begun the process of reversing that tide; it has perhaps also shown conservative and liberal parties across the continent a way forward – one that may soon be tested in Mexico’s presidential vote on July 2.
Indeed, Colombia’s recent presidential election was truly historic. The charismatic and workaholic President Uribe was allowed – for the first time in Colombia's modern history – to stand for a second four-year term as an incumbent, winning outright in the first round with an absolute majority of 62% of the popular vote.
His victory shattered a century-and-a-half of cozy bipartisan misrule. Uribe, a former Liberal, appears on the verge of forging a new consensus – embodied in his First Colombia movement, a bloc of six Uribista parties – that embraces the sort of modernizing economics and liberal democratic politics that has characterized much of the West for the past 25 years.
Opposed to this consensus is a new left-wing party, the Polo Alternativo Democrático (PAD). Headed by a former Constitutional Court judge, Carlos Gaviria, the PAD consists of a broad range of leftists, from former Marxist guerrillas to “third way” social democrats.