Legislative Elections and Consultations in Colombia: Progress for Women?

Congress elections and consultations for the next presidential election were held in Colombia on March 13th to define the political leaders for the period 2022-2026. Women's participation in both electoral races was outstanding.

Francia Márquez

Photo: TW-FranciaMarquezM

The Woman Post | Diana Sedano Valdes

There is a plausible change in politics in the country in a context of high polarization between the left and right forces. The voting rate in the country tends to be low: 38,8 million people were authorized to vote, but only 46% did it; the abstention rate increased compared to the past two elections. However, movements led by women had tremendous support of the electorate, compared to the past elections. Let's explore what changed.

The presidential election in Colombia will take place next May 29th. To define the final candidates, Colombians were called to participate in the consultations of the three coalitions disputing this political race: Pacto Historico (PH, left), Centro Esperanza (CE, center), and Equipo por Colombia (EC, right). Pacto Historico won with 5.573.894 votes (14.95%), while Equipo por Colombia obtained 3.987.120 (10.67%) and Centro Esperanza 2.158.575 (5.88%). Indeed, the candidates with the highest voting were Gustavo Petro of the PH, Federico Gutiérrez of the EC, and Francia Márquez of the PH.

Francia Márquez was the star of the election. She is the first Afro-Colombian woman to participate in a consultation to the presidential election; she obtained 783.160 votes. Francia was underestimated during the electoral process. However, the consultations' results demonstrated her powerful character, ideas, and candidature. Even if she had fewer funds to promote her campaign, she obtained better results than the candidates of the other coalitions. Francia represents the forgotten people in Colombia; she symbolizes a peaceful revolution to stop poverty and other social inequalities. The result highlights the support for change towards a more inclusive country. Given that she obtained the second-highest number of votes in her coalition, she is expected to be the vice-presidential formula of Gustavo Petro for the elections. However, this is not yet confirmed.

In Congress, 107 candidates were elected for the Senate, of which 33 were women (10 more than in the last period). Pacto Historico, the Conservative Party, and the Liberal Party won most sets in the Senate; the first one had a closed list where 50% were women candidates. Within the House of Representatives, 188 candidates were elected as legislators; the Liberal Party won, followed by Pacto Historico and the Conservative Party. The next Congress will have 52 women representatives, 20 more than the ones in the 2018-2022 Congress.

Also read: WILL FEMALE CANDIDATES HAVE A CHOICE FOR COLOMBIA'S 2022 ELECTIONS?

Women's participation landscape changed considering that there were 1.112 candidates: 40% of all candidates and 6% more than the last elections. Moreover, it was the first time that four lists to the Senate were closed and with gender parity. In addition, Congress will have the first Palenquera woman and the first two Wuayuu women as legislators.

Even if Colombia is far behind from having parity in politics, there was an increase in women's participation; Congress is 28.8%, led by women now. Compared to other countries in the region such as Mexico, Bolivia, or Argentina, Colombia has low participation, considering that the average of women participation in congresses in Latin America is 32%. Responding to this scenario, feminist movements are getting more weight in politics to increase women's political participation. Estamos Listas' movement could not obtain seats in Congress, but they will keep advocating for women in politics.

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