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Colombia (Polity IV and DD)

Leila Marie Canonoy

Kathlene Navia

Colombia is a South American country bordered by Panama, Brazil, Peru and Ecuador. A former
Spanish colony, the country gained its independence on July 20, 1810. Since then, the country
has undergone multiple shifts in its political climate.

Currently, the country is a Republic under its 1991 Constitution, with executive, judicial, and
legislative branches of government. For many years it has exercised a two-party political
system, divided by Liberal and Conservative. But recently, Colombian politics have begun
accepting other political parties into their system, although Liberals and Conservatives still
make up the majority.

Polity IV Assessment

As displayed in the trends graph above, Colombia was considered an Anocratic state (scored 5
from 1946-1949) until 1949, in which the country experienced a civil war coined the “La
Violencia”. The La Violencia was a decade-long Colombian civil war that was triggered by the
assassination of Jorge Eliecer Gaitan, the popular left-wing Liberal Party leader. The La Violencia
escalated further during the reign of Laureano Gomez (1950-1953), a Conservative president
who attempted to establish a fascist state – hence the sudden drop in Colombia’s polity scores
from 1950 to 1958.

As the La Violencia gradually settled down, so did the country’s stability. From 1960 and
onwards, Colombia is consistently scoring 6 to 9 on its Polity IV rating.

According to the most recent (and the only accessible) Polity IV Report for Colombia, the
country scored a 7 in 2010 – with a 0 in Autoc and a 7 in Democ ratings.
DD Assessment

Exselec – Executive Selection

(1946-1952): 1 – Direct Election
(1953-1957): 3 – Non-Elective
(1958-2008): 1 – Direct Election

Legselec – Legislative Selection

(1946-1952): 2 – Elective Legislation
(1953-1957): 0 – No Legislation
(1958-2008): 2 – Elective Legislation

Closed – Status of Legislature

(1946-1948): 2 – Legislature is elected
(1949-1950): 0 – Legislature is closed
(1951-1952): 2 – Legislature is elected
(1953-1957): 0 – Legislature is closed
(1958-2008): 2 – Legislature is elected

Dejure – Legal Status of Parties

(1946-2008): 2 – Multiple Parties Legally Allowed

Defacto – Existence of Parties

(1946-2008): 2 – Multiple Parties

Lparty – Parties within the Legislature

(1946-1948): 2 – Multiple Parties
(1949-1950): 0 - No parties
(1951-1952): 1 - Leg. With Only Members from the Regime Party
(1953-1957): 0 – No Parties
(1958-2008): 2 – Multiple parties

Regime – six-fold regime classification

(1946-1948): 2 – Presidential Democracy
(1949-1952): 3 – Civilian Dictatorship
(1953-1957): 4 – Military Dictatorship
(1958-2008): 2 – Presidential Democracy

The data above reflects the D-D assessment of each element of the Colombian government that
is taken into consideration for the empirical computation of the government’s level of
Democracy/Dictatorship. The DD Assessment correlates with the Authority Trends displayed on
the Polity IV graph: 1949-1957 is classified as a Civilian then a Military Dictatorship, just as when
Colombia’s polity score is -5, which is classified as a Closed Anocracy.