Peace is the mandate given to Santos to form a new government. It will appear in history as a plebiscite for peace, against the war, rather than an endorsement of his present government. Santos cannot reduce the State agenda to the programme of a party or of the so-called national unity. He has in his hands an agenda for peace, an agenda that can be finalized and work begun on its execution. This time the additional votes with respect to his contender are social votes, obtained from the abstention that continues to be the winner in a broken system. These votes were added to those of the political militancy of the left, conservatives or greens.
Like a portrait in his office, the nameless votes must remind Santos of the fact that maybe thousands of highly significant votes came from intellectuals, academics, artists, workers, campesinos, miners, students, people who had remained outside of electoral politics and who at the last minute contributed the million votes that allowed him to overcome his rival from Uribe’s regime. The president must understand this in order to govern without triumphalism, without preference for his followers and traditional electors.
To guarantee governance, this was not simply a vote. It was a plebiscite between the continuance of the war, represented by the extreme right, and an end to the war represented by the traditional right. The plebiscite was won by peace and against the war, and the mandate is for Santos. There were seven million votes in favour of moving towards an end to armed conflict and the end of the use of arms as instruments, as the principal means of political office.
The president must take up his mandate as of now, and he already faces significant challenges. There is a change in the State agenda and the first item will be to provoke an immediate ministerial crisis. He must immediately dismiss the minister of war, who is revoked by this new mandate because of his role as a representative of the warlords and the immorality of his speech-making and calls for death. There is a call to undo regional alliances with political groups and open space for social sectors that to date have been silenced. There is a call to support and to achieve the invalidity of any re-election, whether presidential or of other public officials determined by election or consultation.
His situation as a presidential candidate did not allow him to govern during the past five months, and there is no question but that this has been bad for the country, bad for a weak democracy and bad for public tranquillity. But the time has come to recommence his mandate, to open democratic areas that had been closed. It is the right moment, and he has sufficient political and social support, to govern with the commitments appropriate to democracy, which needs to be built in public, without hidden cards, without debts to pay for each vote obtained.
The right has won but not on its own, but with the support of the centre, of the left, of independents and non-conformists. Peace has won as a real possibility to create favourable conditions for the reduction of inequality, and the sustaining of freedoms already won. The votes that provided the electoral victory can hardly be counted. There is no margin to determine their origin or, on the contrary, to attempt to claim a victory through these votes. This has been an unprecedented situation. It is different. These are Colombian votes, votes of people without parties, people who have no need of political deals, who never hoped to receive a slice of the pie. They have therefore become anonymous guardians of a cause that they have delivered to social mobilizations.
The country won, with the end of a tedious, odious and dangerous moment in recent history that has seen rivers of blood shed by those under the command of certain generals and when all areas of politics had become a free-for-all. The degraded chapter of electoral campaigns without ethics or politics, without principles or responsibilities, has finally been closed. The candidates made promises that will not be fulfilled, they deceived, this was known by voters but there was no other way out. The people were led from above, from within centres of thought from an astute right wing, which left little room to be filled with strategies in their favour.
The right-wing that won is as weak as democracy itself, close to defeat as a political project, but victorious and quick to cover their lack of legitimacy with legality. The people who gave their votes invoking peace know that. As in 1789, antagonistic social classes came together to make it possible to build together a new social contract. But this time the people were in the streets to support their class enemy with votes so as to prevent their defeat at the hands of the extreme right that has grown and been nourished with hatred and with voices and actions of death, of endless war. Paradoxically but out of necessity, the people came to support their adversary in order to reaffirm their serious search for an end to the war. The votes that led to the victory, few or many, we do not yet know, are votes without alliances, votes with ethics, with common responsibilities and disposed to rebuild a state of law and for immediate guarantees for the rights they have won. This people who voted for Santos, did not make him a winner, but without them he may not have won. The greatness of Santos II will be to free himself from the present Santos and understand that the votes that made winning possible were not votes for Santos himself, they were votes for a project, for a common cause: Peace, without looking for a reward.
(Translated for ALAI by Jordan Bishop)