Colombian Conservative Party

Published 12th February, 2014

The Colombian Conservative Party or PCC was founded in 1849 by Mariano Ospina Rodríguez and José Eusebio Caro; along with the Liberal Party it is one of the oldest parties worldwide which still has strong representation in its national parliament. The party describes itself as Centre-right and believes in Conservatism.

The Conservative Party and Liberal Party struggled to live with each other for much of the early years of the newly independent Republic of Colombia leading to civil wars and insurrections on a tediously regular basis. The rivalry eventually erupted into the Thousand Days’ War which left around 100,000 people dead. The Liberals, realising that they couldn’t win, and the Conservatives, with the arm twisting of the United States called a truce in 1902 and for much of the early part of the twentieth century the two parties managed to live with each other and were the only dominant forces.

By 1948 the violence between the two parties had broken out again and in June 1953 a military coup d’état led by General Gustavo Rojas toppled the Conservative government of President Laureano Gómez.

The Conservatives and Liberals, realising that they were getting nowhere, came together in July 1957. The former Conservative President Laureano Gómez and former Liberal President Alberto Lleras signed the ‘Declaration of Sitges’ in which they declared a ‘National Front’. A novel solution, the National Front meant that each party would take an equal number of seats in parliament and would alternate the presidency every four years for 16 years.

That cosy arrangement, which stifled the opportunities for all other political parties, ended in 1974 leading to a massive victory for the Liberals. From then the Conservatives played a secondary role to the Liberals until 2002.

Initially the Conservatives supported Juan Camilo Restrepo for the presidency in 2002 but then put their weight behind a former Liberal running as an independent, Álvaro Uribe. The party won 13 of the 102 seats in the Senate and 21 of 166 seats in the Chamber of Representatives.

The Conservatives subsequently joined Uribe’s Coalition government and in 2006 they backed his successful bid for a second term. In that election they won 30 of the 163 seats in the Chamber of Representatives and 13 in the 102 seat Senate.

In 2010 the Conservatives joined the coalition supporting Álvaro Uribe’s successor candidate, Juan Manuel Santos, who went on to win the presidential election. In the Senate the Conservatives won 22 of the 102 seats and in the Chamber of Representatives they won 38 of the 164 seats to cement their position as the number two party in Congress.

The Colombian Conservative Party is a member of the International Democrat Union and the Centrist Democrat International. Regionally it is a member of the Union of Latin American Parties.

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