Colombia: The elected president wants to build a governing coalition

Colombia: The elected president wants to build a governing coalition
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BOGOTÁ, Colombia — President-elect Gustavo Petro, who has vowed to help Colombia’s poor and disenfranchised, has won the support of an influential establishment party as he seeks to build a majority coalition in Congress.

Petro, a former mayor of Bogotá and a member of the M-19 rebel group that was disarmed decades ago, has won the support of the Liberal Party, which backed another candidate in the first round of Colombia’s presidential election. Petro won the second round on Sunday in a swipe at political traditionalists who have presided over Colombia for generations, through violence and corruption, as well as through economic growth and institutional stability.

The Liberal Party’s decision, led by ex-President César Gaviria, to join Petro’s Historic Pact group shows the pragmatic side of the President-elect, who are making political deals aimed at implementing an ambitious legislative agenda that includes fiscal, agricultural and -, pension and other changes.

“We will not be an opposition party,” Gaviria said in a statement on Wednesday. Details on the Liberal Party’s role in a governing coalition and cooperation with 62-year-old Petro’s camp have yet to be worked out, he said.

The Liberal Party is one of the largest factions in the bicameral Congress, with 14 Senators in the 108-seat Senate and 32 MPs in the 187-seat Lower House.

Petro’s Historic Pact has 20 seats in the Senate and 27 in the House of Representatives. A coalition with the Liberals and other allies would bring them closer to a parliamentary majority.

Sandra Borda, a political scientist at the University of Los Andes in Bogotá, said that much was still unclear about Petro’s vision of a “national agreement” involving all sectors of society.

“We have to see what will be the content of the policies that Congress will support and in return for what,” Borda said. Foreign governments and international investors will be watching closely who will be elected finance ministers, which could indicate whether they plan to increase state involvement in the economy, she said.

About 47% of voters voted for real estate magnate Rodolfo Hernández, who lost to Petro in the second round. As a losing candidate, Hernández was still guaranteed a Senate seat, and he said Thursday he would accept it.

Petro will almost certainly face strong opposition from the Democratic Center, the party founded by a former president, Álvaro Uribe. Current President Iván Duque, who by law could not stand for a second term, is a member of the Democratic Center. August he hands over power to Petro. 7.

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