When Colombians went to vote in congressional elections on Sunday, international media had little doubt what the story was: the participation of former members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) — the guerrilla movement that had conducted a 52-year war against the country’s central government until concluding a peace treaty in November 2016. “Former FARC rebels face first ballot,” blared the BBC. “Critics of peace deal dominate Colombia election,” declared the Associated Press. The Voice of America went with “Former Colombian guerrillas run for office.” You could be forgiven for thinking the campaign was all about FARC, but, as it turned out, nothing could be further from the truth. To an amazing extent, Colombia’s congressional vote was FARC-free territory.
Without their guns, the new FARC political party quickly became a rounding error in the polls. The group was doing so badly that it suspended its campaign, alleging that its candidates weren’t being sufficiently protected. And the party could afford to. The 2016 peace accord guarantees it 10 seats in Congress, regardless of the outcome. Why go to the effort of canvassing for votes?
The party got a pathetic 0.34 percent of the national vote in the Senate, and an even sadder 0.21 percent in the Lower House, according to results late Sunday night. And it wasn’t as though Colombia turned to the political right: other left-wing and center-left parties improved their standing.