The vote count is not yet complete in Colombia, but some of the results are clear enough for a preliminary report.
The various parties supporting President Uribe have won a comfortable majority in the Senate (and apparently also the House). However, El Tiempo is not quite correct when it says:
por primera vez, un partido distinto al liberal y al conservador obtuvo la mayorÃa en el Senado.
Not to downplay the significance of a political force other than Liberal or Conservative controlling the congress for the first time ever, but it is not “un partido.” It is several parties, sharing support for Uribe, but disagreeing on much else. If they were in greater agreement they would have run as, well, un partido, rather than as five major national parties and several smaller ones. Granted that many of the differences among the uribista lists concern less policy than allocation of patronage, it is important to recognize how the new electoral system changed incentives in this regard.
Under the old (de-facto) SNTV system, a political force could gain more seats by breaking up into multiple lists within the same district than it could obtain by presenting one. That is not the case now. Under the d’Hondt formula of PR, there is a small advantage to larger lists, and a political force can never gain more seats with multiple lists than it could obtain with one.
Moreover, most lists were open, meaning candidates or groups of candidates (i.e. factions) within a party could compete amongst themselves over who obtained the party’s seats, while still pooling their votes to the collective benefit of uribismo (or any other political force).
That the various strands of uribismo chose not to present one open list per district, but rather several lists (usually open) under distinct labels indicates that they have different collective purposes, as well as personal and patronage ambitions. So, while it is indeed a historic moment for Colombia that a political force distinct from the traditional Liberal or Conservative parties now will hold a majority, let’s not lose sight of the fact that this will be a coalition of parties, rather than a single (factionalized) party.
Even more, once Uribe is reelected, he will be a lame duck, and the jockeying for succession over the leadership of uribismo will begin. Each of the various parties that is backing Uribe will presumably prefer that one of its politicians, and not one of another uribista party, will inherit the mantle. That is, for as long as they retain their separate labels and leaderships, they will have an incentive to compete on some matters even as they cooperate to assist Uribe in using his second term to implement policy changes that they all broadly agree on.
In fact, given that these are separate parties, and that there is a two-round system to elect the president (three, if one counts partisan primaries, which not all parties conduct), it would be surprising if, in 2010, there was any acoord on a single sucessor to lead the politcal force Uribe has helped bring about. More likely, the various parties will present more than one candidate in the first round (i.e. in May, not the March primary) to compete against one another. I am almost certain that the Conservatives, at least will run their own candidate in 2010, as they are an old party with a distinct label that may be making a comeback from the brink of the partisan grave. As boz notes in the comments, it is not even clear that the broader phenomenon that we call uribismo, for lack of a better term, is distinctively “conservative” programmatically, despite its being labelled as such in many press accounts.
It appears that the breakdown of the Senate will be as follows:
Uribista (endorsed by Uribe)
Partido de la ‘U’, 20
Cambio Radical, 15
Alas Equipo Colombia, 5
Colombia DemocrÃ¡tica, 3
Uribista endorsed subtotal: 61
Pro-Uribe, but not endorsed by the President:
Convergencia Ciudadana, 7
Colombia Viva, 2
Polo DemocrÃ¡tico, 11
Indigena, 2 (special district)
That works out to an effective number of senatorial parties of 7.2. That’s a high degree of fragmentation, but let’s compare to what it was after the 2002 election, when the formerly dominant Liberal had broken up, in part because of the defection of Uribe from their ranks, and the SNTV system was in use. After that election, the effective number of parties represented in the senate was 9.3. And that 9.3 was greater than the effective number of parties by votes, 8.9. It is very rare for the effective number of parties by seats to be greater than by votes, as that can happen only under an electoral system that over-represents smaller parties. Such is the case with simple quota and largest remainders (SQLR, which is effectively SNTV when parties aim only for the remainders and not for the quotas, by nominating so many lists that none elects more than a single candidate). In a previous post today on El Salvador, I noted how the same SQLR system (albeit without the multiple lists) over-represents the third largest party (the PCN) there.
I do not yet have votes totals for the parties in the senate*, but it is clear that the d’Hondt list-PR system and its 2% threshold have turned the system around. That is, instead of inflating fragmentation in the conversion from votes to seats, as SNTV did in 2002, it will have reduced it, as many lists failed to clear the threshold. They contribute to increasing the effective number of parties by votes, but by winning no seats, they obviously add nothing to the fragmentation of the senate itself.
I have also been watching the representation of women. It has increased in the Senate, but only marginally. By my count of the results shown by El Tiempo–and keeping in mind that these results are not final–there seem to have been twelve women elected. This is up from nine in 2002. Three of the top preference-vote-getters in El Partido de la ‘U’ were women, and the party elected six overall. Two women each were elected by the Liberals and Cambio Radical, and one each by the Polo DemocrÃ¡tico and Mira. (The woman elected by Mira was ranked no. 1 on a closed list).
The supposed “number one” or cabeza de lista for the Liberals, Cecilia LÃ³pez MontaÃ±o, was not number one in preference votes (which are all that matter in determining who is elected within an open list). In fact, she was no. 17, or last, with around 32,000 votes. The Liberal’s top vote-getter had around 120,000 (and the second elected around 62,000, nearly twice that of LÃ³pez).
Conservatives elected no women among their 15 senators, but then they had only three on their list of 51 candidates.
El Tiempo is also posting the apparent winners in the House, but I am not going to go district by district and add up the numbers until they are closer to final.
The House summary shows the Liberals with the most (around 18%) seats, followed closely by La U and Conservative, and 10% for the Polo. Over 40% of the seats were won by “others,” many of which are strictly regional lists. The effective number of parties represented in the House is almost certainly going to be higher than in the Senate, because of the regional representation.
In the two presidential primaries, Horacio Serpa has won the nomination of the Liberal party handily, though not by the margin that a poll earlier in the month had suggested he would. He is currently at around 47.8%, with the closest of his three challengers at 23.9%. The primary in the Polo DemocrÃ¡tico apparently went the reverse of the polling estimate, with Carlos Gaviria winning 53.5% against Antonio Navarro Wolff’s 46.5%. Just over a million voters participated in the Polo primary, which is only about half what El Tiempo’s pre-election poll said it would be. Perhaps Navarro has greater support among non-Polo identifiers, who could have voted in the primary had they wanted to (presidential primaries are open), but once the day came, few did so. About 2.2 million voters appear to have participated in the Liberal primary, when the poll suggested three million would. This was the first time any party other than the Liberal party had held a presidential primary.
*UPDATE: The effective number of parties receiving votes in the senate was 8.6.