Duque’s sad swan song

COLOMBIA - Report 12 Oct 2021 by Juan Carlos Echeverry and Andres Escobar

As President Iván Duque starts walking into the sunset (a new president will take office in 10 months), a pressing concern apparently plagues his thoughts: no incumbent would like to see voters exhibit change of heart and elect a successor from the opposite side of the political spectrum. But given Duque’s very low popularity ratings, his concern over this possibility must be reaching nightmarish levels.

A government with political capital could go to Congress with many initiatives to maximize its chances of political survival -- but the Duque administration has run out of steam. That is why Congress is making one last big push during the ongoing budget discussions, and the government, desperate for survival and to the dismay of many, including us, is only playing along.

The budget draft voted upon by the joint economic committees last month includes two provisions that some sectors of Congress would like to see approved on the floors of the House and the Senate in the third week of October. The first relates to regime switching in the pension system, and the second to the government’s capacity to spend during electoral campaigns (regulated by the so-called Ley de Garantías). Pension regime switching looks set to be approved, while the Ley de Garantías reform will likely die. A sad swan song if there ever was one.

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