Trisha Shetty (Editor)

Colombian Conservative Party

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David Barguil

Youth wing

El Tiempo

Colombian Conservative Party

October 4, 1849 (1849-10-04)

Avenida 22 37–09, Barrio La Soledad, Bogotá, D.C., Colombia

Women's wing
Mujeres Conservadoras (Conservative Women)

The Colombian Conservative Party (Spanish: Partido Conservador Colombiano) is a traditional political party in Colombia. The party was formally established in 1849 by Mariano Ospina Rodríguez and José Eusebio Caro.


The Conservative party along with the Colombian Liberal Party dominated the Colombian political scene from the end of the 19th century until 2002, in bipartisan political hegemony. In the mid-20th century, the Conservative Party and the Liberal Party established the "National Front" after deposing President Gustavo Rojas Pinilla and shared by turns the presidential terms for 16 years.

Currently, the Conservative Party is the second largest political force in the congress. It is part of the coalition of Juan Manuel Santos and supported the conservative government of Álvaro Uribe since 2002.


Lawyer José Ignacio de Márquez was elected president of Colombia in 1837. During his government, tensions between civil politicians and generals of the Independence War grew into the first civil war Colombia faced, Marquez's side was called "Liberales ministeriales" (Spanish: Ministerial liberals). After the war, known as the War of the Supremes (Spanish: Guerra de los Supremos), General Pedro Alcántara Herrán won the presidency. Alcántara created a new constitution, with conservative and centralist characteristics. Mariano Ospina Rodríguez was a prominent member of his government, he supported the return of the jesuits to the country and reformed the education system.

Alcántara's administration preceded the government of General Tomás Cipriano de Mosquera. Mosquera's supporters created the Liberal Party in 1848. One year later, Mosquera's detractors Ospina Rodríguez and José Eusebio Caro formed the Conservative Party, which grouped the ministerial liberals, most of the authorities of the Catholic Church and important landowners. In the newspaper La Civilización of October 4, 1849; Ospina and Caro published the conservative program that became the ideological platform for the new party.


In 1863 the Liberal party created a new constitution in the city of Rionegro which was opposed by the Conservative Party. The country went to an unstable period of economic decay and multiple short civil wars between states and parties. In 1876 the independent liberal politician Rafael Núñez was defeated by the official liberal candidate Aquileo Parra. Núñez was in favor of reforming the state and the federal system. He was candidate of the Liberal party to the presidency in 1880 and won the election, despite many leaders of his own party opposed him. In 1884, he was reelected with the support of the Conservative Party, and began the process known as the Regeneration (Spanish: La Regeneración) in which a new constitution was written. The modern Republic of Colombia was founded with a centralized and protectionist government and an educative system managed by the Catholic Church.

Conservative Hegemony

Following the events of the Regeneration, the Conservative Party kept the government of Colombia until 1930. During this period the country experienced economical resurrection and sold Panama to the United States. Although the country was mostly peaceful, two violent episodes occurred in this period: the Thousand Days' War and the Banana massacre. During the Hegemony, the Conservative Party created the Bank of the Republic and a modern rail transport system that crossed the country. However the emergent working classes felt irritated with the conservative governments and began supporting the Liberal Party, winning the presidency with Enrique Olaya Herrera in 1930.

"La Violencia"

In 1946, after sixteen years of liberal governments, the conservative candidate Mariano Ospina Pérez won the presidency due to a division of the Liberal Party between Gabriel Turbay and Jorge Eliécer Gaitán. Political violence reappeared during Ospina's term, finally taking Gaitán as a victim. He was murdered in Bogotá on April 9, 1948. After his assassination began the period known as "La Violencia" in which some members of the Liberal Party formed armed guerrillas, that were then targeted by conservative paramilitary forces. The Liberal Party boycotted the presidential election of 1950, which were won by the radical conservative Laureano Gómez. Gómez became the leader of the most radical faction of the Conservative Party, while Ospina formed a moderate faction friendly with the less extremist members of the Liberal Party.

The National Front

In 1953 a Coup d'état against Gómez was led by the conservative General Gustavo Rojas Pinilla. Rojas was close to Mariano Ospina Pérez and his faction of the Conservative Party as well as to some moderate liberals. Rojas began his government with the support of prominent politicians of both parties, yet he decided to make his own political party in 1955, the Popular Action Movement. Rojas censored and closed important newspapers and began the process for a reelection. Fearing a possible dictatorship, members of the Conservative and Liberal parties created an alliance called the National Front (Spanish: Frente Nacional) that avoided Rojas from staying more time as president. The National Front was a pact in which for sixteen years, Conservatives and Liberals would share the power locally and nationally, and govern the country taking turns in the presidency. The Conservative Party would not present a candidate for the 1958 and 1966 presidential elections, and the liberals would support the Conservative candidate in 1962 (Guillermo León Valencia) and 1970 (Misael Pastrana). During this historical period a conservative dissidence led by Jorge Leyva Urdaneta opposed the pact and presented himself as presidential candidate in 1958 and 1962. Conservatives Belisario Betancur and Evaristo Sourdis were candidates for the 1970 election, losing against Pastrana.

Late 20th century

During the National Front the ideological differences of both parties started to disappear, the parties themselves survived because most of their members came from traditional families and political clans, however. Both parties were taken by regional political lords, while traditional factions of the Conservative Party survived in new leaders. The faction of Ospina survived through Misael Pastrana's son Andrés Pastrana; while Álvaro Gómez Hurtado, son of Laureano Gómez, led a dissidential group called the National Salvation Movement. Gómez was murdered in 1995 in unclear circumstances, although there are testimonies that claim that the authors of the homicide were members of the government and the mafia. In 1982, conservative Belisario Betancur was elected president. After that, the party was the opposition until 1998, when Andrés Pastrana was chosen to be the president. The party used the name Social Conservative Party (Spanish: Partido Social Conservador) between 1990 and 1992.

During this period many new parties were formed, and some of them were movements that seceded from the Conservative Party. Some of them were the National Salvation Movement (mentioned above), the "Independent Conservatism" movement of the Gerlein family, Pastrana's independent party New Democratic Force, the National Conservative Movement, and the antioquean movement called "Unionismo".

21st century

In 2002, although most Conservative senators and representatives initially backed Juan Camilo Restrepo in his bid for the presidency, the Conservative Party supported Álvaro Uribe in his campaign. Uribe was a former liberal who ran as independent against the official liberal candidate Horacio Serpa. Restrepo was close to the government of Andres Pastrana and was criticized by members of his party who supported different candidates like Uribe and Noemí Sanín. In 2006, the Conservative Party supported Uribe's re-election and became the second largest party of his congressional coalition, after the Social Party of National Unity. In 2010, the Conservative Party positioned as the second most voted political force in Colombia and joined Santos' coalition. In November, 2011 senator Efraín Cepeda was elected as the new president of the Conservative Party.

The Conservative Party increased its number of seats in the congress during the first decade of the 21st Century. In the legislative elections of 2002, the Conservative Party won 13 of 102 seats in the Senate and 21 of 166 in the Chamber of Representatives. The party was the second most voted after the Liberal Party, which was the fist. Four years later the Conservative Party won 18 seats in the Senate (5 more than in 2002) and 29 Representatives to the lower chamber (9 more than in 2002). The party stayed in the second place but this time after the Social Party of National Unity and above the liberals. The situation was better for the conservatives in the elections of 2010, getting 22 senators and 36 seats in the Chamber of Representatives. As members of the uribista coalition and then of the National Unity Roundtable (government coalition of Juan Manuel Santos), the Conservative Party and the Social Party of National Unity have become ideological partners. In December 2011 the caucuses of the Conservative Party and the Social Party of National Unity created a pact to maintain the mayority of both parties in the Chamber of Representatives.

One of the political parties most affected by the Colombian parapolitics scandal is the Conservative Party. Also, it has been affected by corruption scandals that happened during the first decade of the 21st century in agencies of the government such as the Ministry of Agriculture and the Dirección Nacional de Estupefacientes sandal. Conservative former president Andrés Pastrana spoke in favor of a change in the direction the party had taken. His comments generated a dispute with the president of the party José Darío Salazar, who was being investigated by the Dirección Nacional de Estupefacientes scandal by the time. In January 2012, the new president of the party, Efraín Cepeda, announced a modification to the rules of the party in order to suspend the membership of those politicians who were investigated by the law.

The current attorney general Alejandro Ordóñez has become one of the most visible heads of the Conservative Party and some groups inside the party have supported the possibility of a presidential campaign of Ordóñez in 2014. Ordóñez is remembered for his conservative positions in moral and religious issues. However, other conservative politicians have sympathized with a reelection of Juan Manuel Santos.

Conservative Program of 1849

  • Constitutional order over dictatorship.
  • Legality against assaulting methods.
  • Christian morality and its civilized doctrine over immorality and the corrupt doctrine of atheism and materialism.
  • Rational liberty over despotism.
  • Legal equality over academic or aristocratic privileges, religious tolerance.
  • Private property and its protection over socialism and communism.
  • Security over arbitrariness.
  • Civilization over barbarism.
  • Current Program

    The party's current programme includes several objectives: to continue the search for peace in Colombia (following the examples of former presidents Guillermo León Valencia, Belisario Betancur and Andrés Pastrana, as members of the party), to preserve national unity and the continuing belief in God held by the majority of Colombians, the need for a reform of the 1991 constitution in order to correct some of its flaws to promote the modernization of the state, to fight unemployment, poverty, and lack of security and to extend and defend property rights.

  • Belief of God being the center of the universe.
  • Belief in private systems.
  • Belief in Fighting Communism and all its ideals.
  • Belief in Tradition.
  • Belief in Free Trade.
  • Belief in an Organized Society
  • Belief in defending family and life before anything.
  • Belief that these are the ideals that will provide a better future for the Colombian Society.
  • Electoral history

    The Colombian Conservative Party is usually the second largest single party in the Colombian Congress, though far behind the numbers corresponding to the Colombian Liberal Party or those of multiple independent factions and candidates.

    From 1958 to 1978 it, and the other major party, the Colombian Liberal Party, shared power as the result of the National Front agreement that followed the fall of General Gustavo Rojas Pinilla.

    The Colombian Conservative Party has become a close political ally of President Álvaro Uribe, who was formerly a member of the opposing Liberal party. The party did not present its own candidate for the 2006 presidential elections, and instead supported President Uribe's reelection.

    In 2010, the party held for the first time, primary elections to choose a candidate for presidency. Noemí Sanín was nominated presidential candidate of the Conservative Party, the first woman to do so.

    Electoral Results

    In legislative elections of 2006 the party won 29 out of 166 seats in the Chamber of Representatives and 18 out of 100 seats in the Senate.

    In 2010, the party won 23 seats in Senate and 37 in the chamber of Representatives.


    Colombian Conservative Party Wikipedia

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