COLLAPSE OF THE DEMOCRATIC SYSTEM, 1946-58
The transfer of power in 1946 ignited tensions between
parties, resulting in violent political conflict,
rural areas. The loss of peace foreboded the return to
and exclusionary politics, similar to the situation
War of a Thousand Days. In the 1940s and 1950s, however,
and exclusion more than threatened the political system;
ruptured it. A democratically elected administration
repressive and dictatorial, which led to its overthrow by
military coup in the twentieth century. Only by having the
power taken from both of their hands did the traditional
recognize that the most effective way to avoid interparty
wars and possible military dictatorships was to join
restrain their competitive tendencies.
In 1946 Ospina assumed office and was faced with the
task of ruling from a minority position, as Liberals had
the majority of all presidential votes and continued to
Congress. Ospina tried to confront this situation by
Liberals into a coalition government. Meanwhile, the level
political rivalry intensified in the countryside, where
Conservatives pursued a course of violence in an attempt
consolidate power after sixteen years out of office.
retaliated and, under Gaitán's leadership, became highly
in their demands that the Ospina government confront the
needs of the modernizing and urbanizing nation.
Gaitanism, the populist social movement led by Gaitán
faction of the PL, increased dramatically between 1946 and
Gaitán supported the democratic rather than the
to reforms. By advocating the passage of more socially
policies, he appealed to the masses and he united urban
campesinos. As the movement grew, observers believed that
would be elected president, which may have happened had he
see the next election.
Liberal victories in the 1947 congressional elections
demonstrated the party's strength among the electorate.
became increasingly concerned with retaining Conservative
and provoked Liberals further by resorting frequently to
enforcement of Conservative privileges in the rural areas.
Liberal appointees in his government resigned in protest
Data as of December 1988