chapter  4
44 Pages

The Colombian Political Parties: Their Clientelist Nature

WithJorge P. Osterling

This chapter presents an overview of the role that the various political parties play in contemporary Colombia with special emphasis on the Liberal and Social Conservatives Parties. It begins with a discussion of political geography, that is, an overview of the relationship between regions and traditional voting patterns. The chapter deals with the so-called “political class,” with an emphasis on clientelist politics followed by a discussion of the special meaning of Colombian political opposition. Colombia basically has a two-party system dominated by the Liberal and Social Conservative Parties. Throughout most of its history, Colombia has had an open, civilian, participatory political system. Each of the major parties is represented by flags, colors and nicknames. Colombia’s political system is in many ways strongly influenced by tradition, and may be considered conservative in the broadest sense in that its basic patterns appear to have changed little in the past century.