Congress will be a sieve for Petro’s reforms

Congress will be a sieve for Petro’s reforms

President-elect Gustavo Petro will face a politically-divided country that has an uncertain economic outlook, enormous internal and external security challenges, and social unrest. In this regard, the next government and Congress must be exceptionally efficient when processing laws to overcome these challenges and successfully meet the current historical and political moment.

The teams at buho Clarity for Leaders and Colombia Risk Analysis introduce this report that includes a series of interviews with members of congress, political analysts, members of trade associations, private sector companies, representatives of the diplomatic corps, and analysis on the behavior of the media, social networks and opinion leaders during the electoral process. The report’s objective is to offer an overview of the challenges between the incoming, reformist government and a renewed Congress. 

Strong opposition awaits the new government from a part of the business community, which could weaken the mechanisms for agreement and consultation with the private sector, especially the Consejo Gremial. In addition, the reform agenda is likely to increase the perceived risks of legal instability, affecting investor confidence. This is a concern for Colombia’s international trade partners, who are cautiously watching the first steps taken by the Petro government and might feel the need to open communication channels with Congress.

For now, there seems to be harmony across the political spectrum that predicts a honeymoon for the incoming president. His favorability has increased and there is a spirit of collaboration. However, as has happened in the past, the peak of popularity could be short-lived due to the delicate economic, social, and security situation that the country will face in the near future. Furthermore, we cannot rule out the possibility of Petro’s tone becoming confrontational with opponents inside and outside his government if he perceives his reformist agenda is in danger. There, we could see the president transform his role as a statesman to a leader willing to take the popular struggle to the streets.

Overview of the Sustainable Development Goals

In Colombia, the commitment acquired before the world of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) does not seem to be a priority for the outgoing Congress, nor for the incoming one, nor for the national government. It is a commitment signed by Colombia to eradicate poverty and protect the planet by establishing goals and concrete actions through collaboration to achieve them by the year 2030.

The buho Clarity for Leaders’ SDG Leaderometer has been studying the behavior of opinion leaders in Colombia on the SDGs, including analyses of more than 3,500 opinions from 758 opinion leaders from 74 media outlets since November 2021. It concluded that after Gustavo Petro’s election, the agenda changed.

All the reforms proposed by the new government could help the country advance in terms of the Sustainable Development Goals; however, the ideologization of the debates could play against this collective challenge that Colombia embraced for itself.

In this report you will find an analysis on:

Reform Agenda

Part of the governability and legitimacy of the incoming administration will be based on the capacity for dialogue and the search for consensus. Despite the support of the parties, given the ideological diversity, it is very likely that mobile majorities will present themselves, through pragmatic alliances, which would limit the ambition of the government’s legislative agenda.

Tax reform and its framework within the Sustainable Development Goals
Pension reform and its framework within the Sustainable Development Goals
Healthcare reform and its framework within the Sustainable Development Goals
Political reform
Agrarian reform and its framework within the Sustainable Development Goals
Energy transition reform and its framework within the Sustainable Development Goals
Police reform 
The international outlook
The future of the SDGs in the legislative agenda

Without having started, the Petro government has hinted that it wants to make reforms through dialogue and building majorities. The support is not lacking, nor is it being built on the basis of obedience, but of commitment and sacrifice. The opportunity is mutual. Congress could regain legitimacy by fulfilling its representative function and true political control, and the government could achieve major reforms without resorting to the authoritarian drive that has characterized the left in the region.

Read and download the complete report here 

Juan Fernando Giraldo 
buho™ Clarity for Leaders 

Sergio Guzmán
Colombia Risk Analysis