The narrow failure of the peace referendum in Colombia on October 2nd shocked both the international community and the (“Si”-supporting) Colombian public. The “No” vote represents a substantial victory for a political opposition that built a coalition out of powerful and diverse domestic political forces. This presents a series of questions about why Santos promised a referendum in the first place, who voted in the “No” camp, and what this all means for the future of the peace process.
The peace referendum in Colombia was a gambit by President Santos to try and lock-in a stable peace, but instead it has potentially delayed peace by incentivizing key constituencies to drum up support for the “No” campaign for political gain. The negotiations going forward will in effect expand the number of negotiating parties to include pro-Uribe, evangelical, and (potentially) anti-restitution groups. In doing so, the likelihood of agreement shrinks. Moreover, the implementation of any future peace agreement is likely to be fraught with challenges if more and more stakeholders hold de facto veto power.