The GPM Global Forecast is a bi-weekly, members-only article series for 2016. It provides analysis and short-term forecasting on key military, political, and economic events around the globe.
FARC Peace Deal Rejected by Colombian Voters
In a shocking turn of events, the peace deal between FARC and the Colombian government was narrowly voted down in a national referendum. With all the votes counted, 50.2% opposed the deal. The deal was widely expected to be approved, which probably accounts for the extremely low voter turnout of just 38%.
The deal would have initiated a process by which the FARC disarmed, entered into the political process, and was put under the jurisdiction of special courts to investigate crimes committed during the civil war. In what became one of the most contentious issues for the No camp, these courts would not be able to mete out jail time to any FARC fighter who confessed their crimes, leading to calls that these people would be “getting away with murder.” Another contentious issue is the government stipend that would have been extended to FARC fighters who laid down their weapons and reintegrated into society.
Given the referendum result, the whole process appears a case of putting the horse before the cart. The agreement had already been feted in a lavish signing ceremony attended by Ban Ki-Moon and US Secretary of State John Kerry among others.
What comes next is anyone’s guess, as the result is a major surprise to the government, the FARC, even the opposition movement that lobbied against the deal. What’s clear is that the deal in its current form is dead.
Looking ahead, it’s likely that the deal will be reworked – possibly in a very superficial way – and put to a vote once again. Leaders in the Yes camp are well aware that their defeat owes itself in large part to voter complacency; if the vote were to be held again today, the turnout would likely be a lot higher, and most of these new voters could be expected to support the deal.
Another sign pointing to a slightly reworked deal and another referendum is that all the major players remain on-board in the process. Colombia President Juan Manuel Santos has organized preliminary talks with both FARC and opposition parties to re-stat the negotiation process, and the FARC leadership has reaffirmed that its committed to peace and will even continue to implement the former deal. Even the opposition movement, led by former president Alvaro Uribe, is amenable to the peace process so long as the final deal is more punitive toward FARC. This could even be a case of ‘careful what you wish for,’ where Uribe wanted to register his opposition against the soon-to-be politically rehabilitated FARC movement, and not become the man responsible for destroying a peace deal that could have finally ended a four-decade long civil war.
The FARC peace process has good momentum, and it can be expected to continue despite this serious setback.