New Colombian Legislature Takes Office

The new Colombian legislature, elected in March, will take office today. Colombian Congresses tend to be politically fractured, and this

new colombian legislature

A new Colombian legislature will take office today follow March elections. Photo: EFE/Leonardo Muñoz/Archivo

The new Colombian legislature, elected in March, will take office today.

Colombian Congresses tend to be politically fractured, and this one is no exception. No party holds even 20% of the seats in either the House or the Senate. However, the largest parties—incoming president Gustavo Petro’s leftist Historic Pact, the Liberal Party, and the Conservative Party—have all declared their support for Petro, giving him a governing majority.

Petro’s coalition is extremely unwieldy, held together mostly by opposition to unpopular outgoing president Ivan Duque and a general unwillingness to oppose the agenda of a president with a clear mandate—at least, for now. One likely flashpoint is state-owned oil company Ecopetrol. Petro has pledged to end all fossil fuel production in Colombia. To this end, he has announced plans to purge Ecopetrol’s board and replace it with his own environmentalist appointees.

Ecopetrol’s historical ties to the Conservative Party mean that the purge, unless handled well, is likely to alienate that party. Petro can govern with the Liberal Party and his leftist allies alone, but the more his coalition is diminished, the more he will have to water down his agenda to keep the support of his more moderate allies.

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