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Government coalition passes the fire test for the reforms

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Government coalition passes the fire test for the reforms

One of the analysts consulted thinks that, as things are going, before the elections next October the Conservative party and the U will have abandoned the bloc that defends the policies of President Gustavo Petro

In the coming days, in extra sessions, the discussion of the health reform will begin, which has generated controversy beforehand even in the official coalition. Then, in March, the Government will present the labor and pension reforms, which also radicalize positions. It is an opportunity to measure how strong is the block of forces that supports the policies of the Head of State.

The Gustavo Petro administration has a big challenge to meet, because by proclaiming itself as the government of change, it considers it necessary to make several fundamental reforms in the health systemjustice, labor, pension and education, among the most important.

For this, the president managed to build majorities in Congress, bringing together his most related sectors, such as the left and the alternatives, grouped in the Historical Pact, with the traditional Liberal, U and Conservative parties.

In the past period, the coalition operated based on the Government’s legislative agenda, since it carried out the vast majority of initiatives, beginning with the spearhead of the package of projects, such as the tax reform and the political reform, although not without a strong internal discussion in the ruling party.

President Petro was aware that it was not possible to put all the ‘eggs’ of the legislative agenda in the same basket in the past period, because several could end up breaking.

For this reason, he saved the strongest part of the projects for this semester, with the challenge of getting them approved in 2023, because just as the coalition could last four years, it could still collapse at any time, leaving it without the majority in Congress and therefore therefore with no chance of success for his legislative agenda.

Given the need for the Government to have the reforms approved quickly, it also runs the risk, by ringing on so many fronts, of generating strong controversies and even cracks in its coalition, given the caliber of the projects and the changes proposed, for example in health the disappearance of the EPS.

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The previous week, the Conservative party announced that it would meet with its benches to establish a position regarding the health reform. He warned in advance that he will not accompany changes that put the system and the well-being of Colombians at risk.

The U party and the Liberals will also meet in the coming days to set their respective positions on this reform. Although several of its parliamentarians have already stated that they do not share the elimination of the EPS and other aspects of the project.

THE NEW CENTURY He consulted the opinion of renowned political scientists on whether the high voltage generated by these reforms can be resisted by the government coalition.

there will be fractures

Carlos Augusto Chacón Monsalve, executive director of the Hernán Echavarría Olózaga Institute of Political Science (ICP), said that “it (the coalition) will surely suffer fractures, because the political responsibility of those who vote for these reforms is clearly at stake, and if these reforms go to generate damage, people are going to hold them politically accountable”.

The political scientist considered that “this will be key to knowing in some way the congressmen how they begin to measure people in the regions, because the truth is that the reforms, at least to health, the pension reform, all of them, have great criticism from different sectors, and at the regional level there are enormous concerns”.

Chacón also said that congressmen, when casting their vote, do not lose sight of the fact that their long-term re-election is at stake, “because in the end their strong majority electorates, except those who vote for opinion, are in the regions. That is why, for example, the Liberal party and the U party told the government that they are not going to support the health reform as they have formulated it”.

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He added that parliamentarians also “mostly know how to take into account that there is enormous political responsibility at stake in the face of the October elections. Furthermore, there is very little time, there is nothing left until more or less half a year of serious legislative work, because in the second semester many will be focused on the October elections”.

The analyst considered that it is the litmus test, “that is what we are waiting to see if this coalition is actually going to be maintained in the face of the October electionsand it is going to start with the reforms, because at the end of the day these are the ones that are going to put the coherence of the parties at stake in front of their voters”.

For his part, Pedro Medellín considered: “I think it will be very difficult for the Government to sustain the coalition in a scenario in which, in the first place, the projects that are presented are not fully known. The president is demanding from the members of the coalition a kind of blank check and that is what the members of the coalition are not willing to do”.

Secondly, the political scientist considered that “the Government is pressing with the street” the discussion of the projects. “Nor is it something that the parties accept in a more or less open way,” he said.
And thirdly, Medellín said, “the lack of transparency, the lack of legitimacy, is going to lead very quickly to that coalition exploding before regional elections.” He considered that “the Conservative party and the U party are leaving.”

“There was no steamroller”

Yann Basset, director of the Observatory Study Group for Democracy – Demos, at the Universidad del Rosario, said that the reforms are going to be “the great battlefield this semester. When the Government was inaugurated, there was talk that Petro had a steamroller. But I think he never had a steamroller, what happens is that he managed to form a coalition, but this coalition has its limits because it is very heterogeneous, it includes left-wing forces, right-wing forces, the Conservative Party; traditional forces or new forces”.

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Basset considered about the government coalition that “it is not obvious that it is there to support all the reformist agenda that this government has, which is fighting on many fronts at the same time, and I think it will be very difficult for all these reforms to pass.”

He said that “the most complicated one I see is political reform, because it directly touches the interests of politicians. I don’t think the traditional parties that are in the coalition are willing to approve that.”

Regarding the health reform, the analyst said that “I see it as complicated, because as the survey that came out in recent days revealed, it is unpopular, and so the congressmen here have a good reason to oppose this reform. And let’s say that behind the parties there is a very strong opposition from the economic unions that want to influence Congress. So it will be very difficult for the government to pass this reform”.

He pointed out that the labor and pension reforms, “perhaps for the moment at least they will not generate so much resistance, but we will see when the already written proposals come out. In any case, it will always be complicated. We have already seen in the case of the health reform that there are even divisions in the same government”.

The political scientist concluded that “it will be the moment of truth for the Government this semester to see how far this coalition will go, and I think it will be a complicated scenario. All the activism that we see from the president on Twitter and so on, I think it’s also the way to try to find slightly more favorable scenarios, because ultimately the scenario that will count is Congress.”

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