Short for CO by Abbreviationfinder, Colombia is a presidential republic. The constitution is based on the principle of power distribution where three institutions balance each other: the executive is exercised by the president, the legislative power is held by Congress and the supreme judiciary is the Supreme Court.
The president is elected for four years in general elections and cannot be re-elected. A constitutional amendment in 2005 allowed for re-election, but the rule was changed again in 2015. Two presidents were re-elected during the period allowed: Álvaro Uribe and Juan Manuel Santos. The president appoints the government and the country’s senior officials. In addition, they are the supreme commander of the armed forces and the police.
- Countryaah: Total population and chart of Colombia for years of 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023 and 2024. Also covers population density, birth rate, death rate and population growth rates.
Members of Congress are elected in general elections for a term of four years. The voting age is 18 years. Police, military and convicted prisoners may not vote. The congress consists of two chambers: the House of Representatives which has 166 elected members and the Senate which had 102 senators (see below). Bills are being considered in both chambers and must be approved by both the Senate and the House of Representatives.
In the Senate, indigenous peoples are guaranteed at least two seats. In the House of Representatives, five places are dedicated to minorities: Indigenous peoples, Afrocolombians and Colombians living abroad. The peace agreement with Farc concluded in 2016 also guarantees the former left-wing guerrilla, which has been transformed into a political party, five seats in both chambers for two terms in 2018. In addition, the second in the presidential election automatically gets a seat in the Senate, and its vice presidential candidate a seat in the House of Representatives. As of 2018, the number of members in both chambers is 172 and 108 respectively.
Colombia is divided into 32 ministries governed by elected governors and regional parliaments. The ministries are in turn divided into over a thousand municipalities. Mayors and members of the municipal council are also elected in general elections.
Colombia has had civilian rule longer than most other Latin American countries. In the 20th century, the country was a military dictatorship for only four years (1953–1957).
The two political parties that dominated history, the Colombian Conservative Party (Partido Conservador Colombiano, PCC) and the Colombian Liberal Party (Partido Liberal Colombiano, PLC), were both formed in the mid-1800s. Originally, they had different perceptions about the role of the state and the church. The Conservatives wanted to strengthen both church and state, while the Liberals wanted to limit their power. This difference has become more and more blurred over the years. The political struggle is now primarily about the control of the state apparatus, which has considerable resources at its disposal. The PLC is a Social Liberal Party, a member of the Socialist International, while the PCC can be described as a Christian Democratic Right Party.
Between 1958 and 1974, the two parties split power according to a special settlement (see Modern History). When the power-sharing pact came to an end, and when the new constitution was introduced in 1991, a number of small parties could enter Congress. Prior to the 2006 election, a two percent barrier was introduced, which led to many small parties merging into alliances.
No modern politician has a more prominent role in Colombian politics than Álvaro Uribe. He is immensely popular in large voter groups, but equally sheltered in others. Uribe formerly belonged to the Liberals and was Senator and later Governor of Antioquia. In the 2002 election, Uribe was nominated as an independent candidate (see Modern History). His main message was that the left-wing guerrilla Farc must be fought with violence. Uribe’s candidacy, which was supported by the Liberals rival Conservative Party, among others, caused a crisis in the Liberal Party.
In 2005, the U Party (Partido de la U or Partido Social de Unidad Nacional, PSUN) was formed by members of Congress who wanted Uribe re-elected. The party that received strong support as early as 2006 became the largest in Congress in 2010, thus depriving the Liberals of the dominant position. Uribe was not allowed to stand for re-election in 2010 but was succeeded in the post by his defense minister, Juan Manuel Santos.
After the change of power, Uribe and Santos soon collided. In 2013, Uribe formed the right-wing Democratic Center (Centro Democrático, CD), with the aim of challenging Santos and his government. Uribe is the leader of the CD and his patron Iván Duque won the presidential election in 2018. At the same time, CD became the largest party in Congress.
Under the Santos regime, the U party was part of party alliances with varying participants. V id choice 2018 remained only liberal PLC and Citizen option (Opción Ciudadana, OC). The OC was formed under the name Party for National Integration (PIN) prior to the 2010 parliamentary elections by relatives of former MPs who were under investigation for consultation with the paramilitaries. The party changed its name in the summer of 2013.
Until autumn 2017, the right-wing party Radical change (Cambio Radical, CR) was also included in the government. CR was first included in the government of Uribe and then in Santos until October 2017, when the party left the government cooperation. CR’s leader Germán Vargas Lleras, who was Santo’s vice president, ran for president in the 2018 election and then came in a distant fourth place.
Alternative Democratic Poland, Polo (Polo Democrático Alternativo, PDA) was formed in 2004 through a merger of left-wing parties. Polo presidential candidate Carlos Gaviria came second in the 2006 election. The following year, Polo won the election of Bogotá’s mayor, who is considered the second most important political post in the country.
The Green Alliance (Alianza Verde, AV) was formed in 2009 when a former environmental party formed an alliance with several independent former mayors. It was initially called the Green Party (Partido Verde, PV) but changed its name in 2013. The party’s candidate Antanas Mockus was somewhat unexpectedly a strong challenger in the 2010 presidential election, but lost to Santos.
Gustavo Petro, a former Polo member, formed the Colombian Progressive Movement Party (Movimiento Progresista Colombiano, MPC) in 2011 and won the mayoral election in Bogotá that same year. Two years later, he was indicted for neglect of the city, but was reinstated after several court appearances (see Calendar). Gustavo Petro was a candidate in the 2018 presidential election for an alliance called Colombia Humana. He lost in the second round against Iván Duque.
The Fargo guerrilla, the Communist Party and other leftist groups formed the Patriotic Union in 1985 (Unión Patriótica, UP). It happened as part of the peace talks that were then held with the Conservative government. The party’s success in the national and local elections in 1986 was met with violence mainly from right-wing militia, which killed thousands of its politicians, members and sympathizers. Three of the victims were presidential candidates. The UP was dissolved in 2002, but the party was resurrected in 2013 (see Current policy). Then peace talks between Farc and the government took place, talks that culminated in a peace agreement in the fall of 2016. In the following year, Latin America’s oldest armed movement was disarmed under UN supervision and Farc was transformed into a political party: Alternative Joint Revolutionary Force (Fuerza Alternative Revolucionaria del Común, Farc). The party thus retained the abbreviation Farc, which was previously read out by Colombia’s revolutionary armed forces (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia).