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The impact of the Colombian electoral reform in Congressional and
sub-national elections








Juan Albarracín
PhD Student
University of Notre Dame
Notre Dame, Indiana
jalbarra@nd.edu

Associate Researcher
Center for Interdisciplinary Research
(CIES)
Universidad Icesi
Cali, Colombia
juan.albarracin@correo.icesi.edu.co

Juan Pablo Milanese
Director of the Political Science Program
Universidad Icesi
Cali, Colombia
jmilanese@icesi.edu.co




Prepared for delivery at the 2012 Congress of the Latin American Studies
Association, San Francisco, California May 23-26, 2012.




DRAFT: Please do not quote without permission from the authors

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1. Introduction
1

In 2003 Colombian legislators introduced sweeping changes to the country’s electoral rules
with the intent to “rationalize” party competition, i.e. reduce fragmentation and incentives
to cultivate a personal vote. Evidence provided by two national after the enactment of the
new rules indicates that reform was successful in reducing the level of party system
fragmentation in the Senate and to some extent in the House of Representatives (Cámara de
Representantes). However, the impact of reform on regional and local elections has
received far less attention.
In this paper, we analyze the effects of reform in House elections, as well as evaluate the
impact of new rules in elections for 21 city councils. Did electoral reform reduce
fragmentation in these elections? Is electoral competition at the local level less candidate-
centered after reform? The study of these elections can provide new insights to debates
about electoral reform in Colombia. Firstly, most electoral rules remain constant across
levels while an important component of the electoral system varies, namely district
magnitude. Secondly, the greater number of electoral districts and the number of local
elections conducted after the passage of electoral reform supplies a considerable amount of
data that is not available for Senate elections.
We begin the paper with a brief discussion of the Colombian party system and electoral
rules. We concentrate on the institutional incentives of pre-reform electoral rules and how
these enabled party system fragmentation and the cultivation of a personal vote, as well as
on the expected impact of post-reform electoral reform. After presenting results of previous
research evaluating the impact of electoral reform, we undertake our analysis of House and
city council elections. Our results are quite puzzling: While the impact of electoral reform
in House elections follows theoretical expectations, city council elections do not.
Furthermore, the personalization of electoral competition remains quite high at the local
level. Therefore, our results indicate a need to further study the effects of electoral reform
at the regional and local levels.
2. The Colombian party system
Colombia’s party system transformed considerably during the 1990s. Since the mid 19
th

century, two political parties (the Liberal and Conservative Parties) dominated Colombian
politics. These parties, however, were not highly centralized and lacked a strong national

1
This paper presents some preliminary results of an ongoing research project directed by the authors on the
effect of electoral reform in House of Representatives (Cámara de Representantes), provincial assemblies
(Asambleas Departamentales) and city councils (Concejos Municipales) in Colombia. The authors thank
Adolfo Abadía, Karen Girón and Xiomara Suescún for superb research assistance. We would also like to
express our gratitude to the members of the “Electoral Systems and Electoral Behavior” course (2011-1
semester) at Universidad Icesi for helping gather data on House elections. The authors gratefully acknowledge
Univesidad Icesi’s support in conducting this project.
3

party organization. Factions within the parties were, in fact, very institutionalized and
controlled important processes, for example candidate nominations (Pizarro 2006)
2
.
Nonetheless, since the l970s the level of factional electoral fragmentation increased
(Gutierrez Sanin 2007). In the 1990s factional fragmentation within parties exacerbated:
Parties or even “instutionalized factions” within parties could no longer control candidate
nominations and the number of party lists skyrocketed. In addition, politicians from both
“traditional” parties and newcomers increasingly started making use of new party labels
3
,
which were basically candidate-orientated electoral “mini parties”
4
, and could successfully
win seats in Congress (Pizarro 2006). Thus, the effective number of electoral of
parliamentary parties increased considerably by 2002.
Graph 1: Effective number of parliamentary parties House and Senate

Source: Taylor (2009: 93)

It is not surprising that this high level of party system fragmentation and the
personalization of electoral competition were accompanied by an inability of political
parties to structure legislative processes. Evidence offered by Milanese (2011) points out
that during the 2002-2006 legislature, parties in Congress and, consequently were incapable
effectively organizing legislative activity.

2
Pizarro (2006) highlights that, given the strength of party factions, the Liberal and Conservative parties were
more “party subcultures” than political parties.
3
Many of the labels formed in the late 1990s in Colombia used the word “movimiento”. In Colombia, a
distinction is usually made between political parties and political movements. The latter usually refer to
temporary, citizen-based electoral movements (Moreno 2005). However, most political movements that were
constituted after the 1991 Constitution were more electoral vehicles of a politician rather than the electoral
expression of a citizen movement.
4
These “mini-parties” were small electoral organizations whose sole purpose was to elect one candidate for
public office. They were created by the candidate himself and were usually only active during elections. The
termed coined in Colombia to refer to them was micro-empresas electorales (Pizarro 2006)
2,24
3,1
2,9
3,56
9,19
2,2
3,03
2,82
3,27
7,39
0
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
1990 1991 1994 1998 2002
Effective number of parliamentary parties (Senate)
Effective number of parliamentary parties (House)
4

Additionally, there was an erosion of partisan attachment in the electorate. Traditional
parties are said to have been an important source of political identity during the 20
th
century
and a strong determinant of vote behavior
5
. However, in the past decade, the percentage of
respondents of who have expressed sympathies for any party has been quite low, ranging
from 23% to 37% in LAPOP surveys since 2006. Partisan attachments for the previously
dominant Liberal and Conservative parties have diminished considerably and support for
new parties has been very volatile (Rodriguez Raga and Seligson 2008, 2011).
3. Electoral rules in Colombia
Characteristics of the electoral system before 2003 have generally been identified as the
main culprits for the extreme fragmentation of the party system and personalization of
electoral competition (Pizarro 2006; Shugart et al. 2007, among many others). Colombia
had a proportional representation (PR) system which used the Hare (or simple) quota and
largest remainders to distribute votes
6
and had no election threshold. Parties were also
allowed to present multiple closed lists in each electoral district, although votes between
these lists could not be pooled. District magnitude varied depending on the size of the
population. Elections for the House of Representatives (lower house) were held in districts
7

whose magnitude varied from two (in the smallest departamentos) to 18 (in Bogotá). In
1991, the Constitutional Assembly introduced a nationwide electoral district to elect the
members of the upper house (Senate) and thus abolished the (formal) regional election
senators
8
.
Moreover, party registration laws placed very low thresholds to gain legal recognition as a
political party or political movement. Only 50,000 votes (or citizen signatures) or a
representative in Congress guaranteed a party legal recognition and even permitted
overlapping membership between parties and political movements (Moreno 2005).

5
Reliable survey data documenting the importance of partisanship during the 20
th
century is not available.
Claims about the importance of partisan identities are usually supported by historical evidence. Only until
recently do we have access to reliable Colombian public opinion data about, particularly through the surveys
conducted by LAPOP’s Americas Barometer and Latinobarometro.
6
A seat is awarded when each party reaches the Hare quota (


). If party has
double the amount of votes as the quota, the party is assigned two seats and so on. If all seats are not assigned
using the quota, seats are distributed to parties with the largest remainders of votes, i.e. the votes that were not
used to assign seats with the quota procedure.
7
Electoral districts for House elections are the departamentos (provinces) and the capital (Bogotá). Special
(nationwide) electoral districts exist for Indigenous (1 seat) and Afro-Colombian (2 seats) minorities. In this
paper we will not analyze the latter type of electoral districts, although the extreme fragmentation of the
electoral district for Afro-Colombian minorities warrants further study.
8
The members of the Constitutional assembly thought that the introduction of the nationwide district to elect
senators would favor candidates moved by national and programmatic concerns (over clientelistic and narrow
regional concerns). This reform did not have the intended effects, although “the average senator still captures
support more widely than prior to reform” (Crisp and Ingall 2002: 746, see also Shugart et al. 2007).
5

The existence of multiple lists per party, the absence of vote pooling across lists of a same
party combined with a (predominant) distribution of seat through largest remainders
yielded a system that incentivized the cultivation of personal votes (Shugart et al. 2007) and
made it resemble, in its workings, the single non transferable vote (Cox and Shugart 1995,
Shugart et al. 2007)
9
. The extremely low effective threshold to obtain a seat in the Senate
and the high magnitude districts in the House also made party system fragmentation
possible. In the 2002 elections, a list could win a seat in the Senate with 40,460 votes (or
0.42% of valid votes) and a seat as a representative for Bogotá with 18,805 votes (or 1.14%
of valid votes).
After failures in attempts to reform Colombia’s electoral rules (see Shugart et al. 2007), the
extraordinary fragmentation of the party system after the 2002 legislative elections
prompted the need for reform in order to “rationalize” electoral competition, i.e. reduce
party system fragmentation and personalization and, hence strengthen political parties
(Botero and Rodriguez Raga 2008). In 2003 a Congressional initiative resulted in a
complete overhaul of the electoral system and other rules. Firstly, the Hare quota was
changed for the D’Hondt
10
electoral formula. Secondly, an electoral threshold was
introduced which requires parties to obtain at least 2% of valid votes in the elections for the
Senate or a percentage of the simple quota in House elections
11
to participate in the
distribution of seats (although reaching this threshold does not guarantee obtaining a seat).
Thirdly, single-party lists were introduced. Fourthly, parties were given the possibility to
choose between closed or open lists. Furthermore, parties are now required to obtain at least
2% of votes in the Senate election (or 2% of votes casted in House elections nationwide) in
order to maintain legal recognition as a party. Requirements to register independent
candidates and the magnitudes of electoral districts remained unchanged.
Thus, the 2003 electoral reform contained a set of mutually reinforcing incentives to reduce
party system fragmentation, particularly in districts with high magnitude (the Senate, as
well as the House districts of Bogotá, Antioquia, and Valle del Cauca). By introducing vote
pooling though single party lists and rewarding vote accumulation with the D’Hondt
electoral formula, the reform also included mechanisms to foster intra-party cooperation
(Botero 2009; Shugart et al. 2007). However, open lists bring in an element that can

9
Liberal and Conservative parties benefited for a long time from this system throught he so-called “operación
avispa”: By placing several lists in a district, Liberals and Conservatives would get more seats through largest
remainders than they should get awarded given their proportion of votes (see Moreno 2005; Shugart et al.
2007).
10
The exception to this rule are districts with were the magnitude equals two. In these districts, seats are
distributed according to the Hare quota and largest remainder for parties which pass the electoral threshold.
11
Electoral reform foresees a differentiated treatment of the threshold depending on district magnitude: In
electoral districts with magnitude greater than two, 50% of the simple quota of votes (Hare quota) is needed to
participate in the distribution of votes. In district with a magnitude of two, 30% of the quota is needed.
6

exacerbate intra-party competition by distributing party seats to the candidates with the
highest preference votes (Shugart 2005)
12
.
4. Research on the effects of electoral reform
Most of the analyses evaluating the impact electoral reform in Colombia have focused on
its effects on senatorial elections. They show that, indeed, electoral reform contributed to a
reduction in party system fragmentation in the Senate as measured by the effective number
of parties (Rodriguez Raga and Botero 2006; Botero and Rodriguez Raga 2008), see graph
2.
Graph 2: Reduction of the nominal and effective number of parties in the Senate

Source: Taylor (2009: 93) for 1990-2006 and own calculations using data from the Registraduría Nacional
del Estado Civil for 2010 elections

Whereas the effects of reform on fragmentation in the Senate are quite clear, its effects on
House elections have garnered considerably less attention. This is surprising since the study
of House elections can be particularly appealing since there is variation in district
magnitude but electoral reform did not alter this feature of the electoral system (Shugart
and Pachón 2010). In fact, one could argue that the only (substantive) change for districts
with very low magnitude (M=2) was the introduction of single party lists
13
.
In one of the few articles discussing the impact of reform in the House, Shugart and Pachón
(2010) present evidence showing its differential effects according to district magnitude.

12
Literature on the Brazilian electoral system has highlighted how OLPR (open list proportional
representation) creates incentives to cultivate a personal vote (see Nicolau and Stadler 2012, among others).
13
In districts where the magnitude equals 2, seats are still distributed according to the Hare quota and largest
remainders. Although and electoral threshold was introduced, this threshold is not significant since the
effective threshold (amount of votes to obtain one seat) is usually higher than the formal electoral threshold.
See the appendix for supporting data.
2,24
3,1 2,9
3,56
9,19
7,1
5,6
11
20
23
27
47
12
10
0
5
10
15
20
25
30
35
40
45
50
1990 1991 1994 1998 2002 2006 2010
Effective number of parliamentary parties (Senate)
Nominal number of party holding seats (Senate)
7

Analyzing the 2006 election, they propose that in high magnitude districts there should be a
reduction in the number of parties while an increase in the number of parties should be
expected is low magnitude districts. Shugart and Pachón argue that whereas politicians in
larger districts have an incentive to pool votes (in order to pass the threshold and gain
seats), politicians in smaller districts might help rivals get elected by pooling votes.
Therefore, in small districts there is an incentive to use different party labels
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after reform.
Unlike research on party system fragmentation, there is less conclusive evidence, in our
opinion, on the effects of reform on the incentives to cultivate a personal vote. Although
electoral thresholds, the D´Hondt electoral formula and single party lists in Senate elections
and House districts with high magnitude foster some level of cooperation between
candidates (Botero 2009; Shugart et al. 2007; Shugart and Pachón 2010), open lists also
foster intra-party competition between candidates. Thus electoral reform may have reduced
fragmentation (particularly in the Senate) but did not necessarily foster the creation of
disciplined and/or cohesive parties with stronger party organizations (Botero and Rodriguez
Raga 2008).
Moreover, little work has focused on the effects of reform at the sub-national level; even
though, electoral rules in the provincial and municipal level are essentially identical as in
the House, with the exception of district magnitude. Botero (2006) and García 2006
analyzed the effects of reform in some City Councils (Concejos Municipales) in the 2003
regional elections, i.e. the first elections in the country under new electoral rules, and found
a reduction in the number of party lists competing for seats. In order to make a contribution
to this gap in the literature, we will undertake an analysis of the effects of electoral reform
in the elections for House seats (section 5) and 21 city councils (section 4).
5. Effects of electoral reform in the House of Representatives at the district level
We can detect a slight reduction in the overall level of fragmentation in the House of
Representatives after the 2010 elections and a considerable reduction in the nominal
number of party labels competing for a seat in any house district after electoral reform (see
graph 3)
15
. Thus, as in the Senate, electoral reform had the envisioned effect in the House: a
reduction of the fragmentation.
Graph 3: Number of party labels and effective number of electoral parties (House – National)

14
Shugart and Pachón (2010) argue that politicians in low magnitude districts use different party labels in
order to differentiate themselves. We do not completely agree with this argument, since the source of a
candidate’s electoral support need not be (possible) programmatic differences (or other cues) derived from
different party labels. Using different party labels just helps them avoid vote pooling.
15
This analysis excludes the special electoral districts for Afro-Colombians and Indigenous communities.
8


Source: Calculations by the authors using data from the Registraduría Nacional del Estado Civil

However, as Shugart and Pachón (2010) point out, the impact of electoral reform in the
House should be differentiated. In high magnitude districts we should expect a
reduction in the effective number of parties, as candidates will need to pool votes in
order to pass electoral and effective thresholds. In low magnitude districts, the effective
number of parties should tend to increase, since politicians who previously could run
under a same party banner without fearing that vote pooling would benefit their
opponents will now have to use a different party label.
Besides analyzing the effective number of parties in high and low magnitude districts,
we also look at the effective number of lists. The effective number of lists should
considerably reduce in high magnitude districts and equal the effective number of
parties after electoral reform. Nonetheless, in low magnitude districts the effective
number of lists should remain about the same after electoral reform. By looking at the
effective number of lists, we can test if the level of fragmentation in low magnitude
districts remained substantively unchanged after reform. We are, thus, assuming that
before electoral reform, each list (regardless if it shared a party label with another one)
worked functionally as a separate party. This assumption seems reasonable since parties
in the late 1990s and 2002 had almost no control over nominations, candidates
effectively ran their own personalized campaigns without being held accountable to the
party (if the used and established label), and there was no vote pooling and little
coordination between party lists. In essence, the appearance of new party labels after
2003 would be the formalization of preexisting fragmentation in low magnitude
districts.
5.1. High magnitude districts
67
73
41
21
4,03
7,65 8,77
6,11
0
10
20
30
40
50
60
70
80
1998 2002 2006 2010
Number of labels Effective number of electoral parties
9

The following section analyses the patterns of electoral fragmentation in the electoral
districts with the highest magnitudes: Bogotá (M=18), Antioquia (M=17) and Valle del
Cauca (M=13). As expected, there is a reduction in the effective number of parties in
the three districts after reform (see graph 4).
Graph 4: Effective number of parties –districts with highest magnitudes

Source: Calculations by the authors using data from the Registraduría Nacional del Estado Civil
The same effects can be detected when one looks at the nominal and effective number
of lists in these districts (see graphs 5 and 6).
Graph 5: Nominal number of lists in
districts with the highest magnitude
Graph 6: Effective number of lists in
districts with the highest magnitude

Source: Calculations by the authors using data from the Registraduría Nacional del Estado Civil
7,58
9,44
8,75
5,91
3,39
7,75
6,64
4,20
3,35
8,65
7,24
5,90
0,00
1,00
2,00
3,00
4,00
5,00
6,00
7,00
8,00
9,00
10,00
1998 2002 2006 2010
Bogota
Antioquia
Valle
172
286
27
13
61
67
14
11
51
62
16
11
0
50
100
150
200
250
300
350
1998 2002 2006 2010
Bogota Antioquia Valle
37,24
52,12
8,75
5,91
37,04
28,75
6,64
4,20
25,81
24,67
7,24
5,90
0
10
20
30
40
50
60
1998 2002 2006 2010
Bogota Antioquia Valle
10

Our data, which includes an additional election, confirms Shugart and Pachón’s (2010)
analysis based on the 2006 elections. In high magnitude districts there is a considerable
reduction of fragmentation (as measured by the effective number of parties and lists).
5.2. Low magnitude districts
Patterns of electoral fragmentation in low magnitude districts (M=2)
16
also tend to
follow Shugart and Pachon’s (2010) expectations.
Graph 7: Effective number of parties – selected districts with M=2

Source: Calculations by the authors using data from the Registraduría Nacional del Estado Civil
Although there is more variation in the levels of fragmentation across the districts, the average
tendency shows an increase in the effective number of (electoral) parties after reform. Unlike
high magnitude districts and in line with expectations, the average effective number of lists in
all twelve districts remains more or less constant after electoral reform (see graph 8). There is,
therefore, evidence that suggests that the level of fragmentation in small magnitude districts
remains more or less stable over time: Before elections competitors ran with common party
labels but different lists. After reform, competitors ran with different labels (to avoid pooling)
but vote fragmentation remained very similar.
Graph 8: Effective number of lists – selected districts with M=2

16
There are 12 districts whose magnitude equals 2: Amazonas, Arauca, Caquetá, Casanare, Chocó, Guainía,
Guaviare, La Guajira, Putumayo, San Andrés, Vaupes and Vichada.
2,24
2,54
4,11
3,89
0,00
1,00
2,00
3,00
4,00
5,00
6,00
7,00
1998 2002 2006 2010
Arauca Caqueta Casanare Choco
La Guajira Putumayo Average
11


Source: Calculations by the authors using data from the Registraduría Nacional del Estado Civil
6. Effects of electoral reform in City Councils (Concejos Municipales)
As we mentioned before, it is quite surprising that research on the impact of reform has not
taken a closer look at its effect in subnational elections, either for provincial assemblies
(asambleas departamentales) or city councils (concejos municipales). Firstly, elections for
these legislative bodies are conducted using the same rules as those used in elections for the
House of Representatives. Secondly, there is considerably greater number of electoral
districts in which elections are being held and there have been more elections after reform.
In this sense, regional and local elections promise to be a great source of data to evaluate
the effects of reform across districts with different magnitudes and in different regions.
In this section, we will analyze elections in 21 Colombian cities whose district magnitude is
very similar (M=19 or 21)
17
. Analogously to House elections in districts with high
magnitude, it should be expected that electoral reform would foster a reduction of the
effective number of parties, since candidates would need to pool votes in order to pass
electoral thresholds. Nevertheless, our analysis presents quite a different picture. The
average effective number of parties in the 21 cities actually increased. Although there is
variation between elections and districts (see appendix), only in 1 of the 21 city councils is
there a reduction in the effective number of parties after 2003. This finding, documented in
graph 9 and the appendix, indeed runs completely counter to theoretical expectations.
Graph 9: Average electoral and parliamentary effective number of parties of 21 cities

17
For detailed data on each city, see appendix.
4,4
4,2 4,1
3,9
0,00
1,00
2,00
3,00
4,00
5,00
6,00
7,00
1998 2002 2006 2010
Arauca Caqueta Casanare Choco
La Guajira Putumayo Average
12


Source: Calculations by the authors using data from the Registraduría Nacional del Estado Civil
We also analyzed the effective number of lists (1997-2000 elections) and the effective
number of candidates (2003-2011 elections). Given that lists in the 1997-2000 elections
basically were candidate-based, the effective number of lists is a (slightly imperfect)
indicator of the effective number of candidates before reform. We can thus evaluate if there
is a reduction in the effective number of candidates who are now running under fewer party
lists. Graph 10 shows how the effective number of candidates increases on average in the
21 municipalities after electoral reform.
This increase in the effective number of candidates could imply that votes within party lists
are more fragmented after reform and, to some extent, that party lists are less dependent on
one or few candidates as vote getters
18
. However, higher fragmentation could also indicate
that there is higher competition within party for votes and possibly greater personalization
of campaign by candidates
19
.
Graph 10: Average effective number of lists (1997-2009 and effective number of
candidates (2003-2011)

18
Less dependence from few vote getters could increase the autonomy of the party vis-à-vis candidates thus
contributing to a strengthening of the parties.
19
In this regard, we would need to analyze the patterns of fragmentation within each party list for each
municipality to provide definitive evidence about the patterns of competition within party lists.
2,9
4,6
7,4
7,6
7,9
2,6
3,6
4,6
5,9
6,3
0,0
1,0
2,0
3,0
4,0
5,0
6,0
7,0
8,0
9,0
1997 2000 2003 2007 2011
Average Electoral Average Parliamentary
13


Source: Calculations by the authors using data from the Registraduría Nacional del Estado Civil
Moreover, it plausible that there are greater incentives to cultivate personal votes in local
elections since candidates compete for votes in smaller geographical districts and,
therefore, there is a smaller potential pool of voters
20
. To further explore the personalization
of votes in local elections, we introduce in graph 11 an indicator of personalization: the
percentage of votes cast only for party labels. A low number of votes for the party could
imply that electors vote largely for a person, disregarding party label. Graph 11 shows how
the average percentage of party label votes has decreased since 2003.
Graph 11: Average percentage of votes only for party lists


20
Although intra-party competition at the Senate level in open-list is considerable, candidates have a wider
potential pool of votes (a nationwide district) than open-list candidate for a city council election.
71,7
65,6
70,1
86,5
90,1
0,0
10,0
20,0
30,0
40,0
50,0
60,0
70,0
80,0
90,0
100,0
1997 2000 2003 2007 2011
16,4
9,7
8,6
0,0
2,0
4,0
6,0
8,0
10,0
12,0
14,0
16,0
18,0
2003 2007 2011
% votes only for party list from total party vote
14

Source: Calculations by the authors using data from the Registraduría Nacional del Estado Civil

The results of our analysis of local electoral results present a completely different picture
than the view of the level of party system fragmentation showed by nation-wide elections
(Senate) and House elections. After electoral reform, there is greater fragmentation and the
degree of personalization remained high. At least in the local level, electoral reform did not
have the intended impact.
7. Conclusion and future research
The results presented in this paper are quite puzzling and provide new insights to the
discussion of electoral reform in Colombia: While the impact of electoral reform in House
elections follows theoretical expectations, city council elections do not. Even under
identical electoral institutions and almost the same district magnitude, city council elections
report counterintuitive results: fragmentation increased after changes in electoral rules that
intended the contrary. Furthermore, the personalization of electoral competition remains
very high at the local level. Why?
In order to provide answers to questions raised in this paper, our research project continues
to systematize data of more local elections and will also include electoral results for
provincial assemblies. Furthermore, to unravel the dynamics of electoral competition at the
local level (and find answers to the surprising rise in fragmentation) we plan to conduct
interviews we local politicians. Additionally, we believe that more research should be
conducted about the nature of electoral in House and Senate races. More conclusive
evidence is needed to determine if reform managed to reduce incentives to cultivate
personal votes in these elections.
If anything, our results indicate that research on the effects of electoral reform in Colombia
should more systematically include the regional and local levels. Particularly in times in
which new proposals for reform of electoral rules are being discussed, evidence from the
regional and local levels could be elucidating.
21



21
In the past year, some politicians have discussed a reintroduction of closed lists or a complete overhaul of
the electoral system with the introduction of a mixed system.
15

8. Appendix
8.1. Electoral thresholds
Table 1: Electoral and effective thresholds (number of votes) in selected house districts

Electoral Threshold Effective Threshold
Magnitude District 2006 2010 2006 2010
18 Bogotá 36255 37638 51898 57513
17 Antioquia 28584 31746 45240 51144
13 Valle 28954 34470 41945 53581
2 Amazonas 2073 2475 3558 4270
2 Arauca 5214,3 6192 5604 13900
2 Caqueta 7981 10550 13590 14389
2 Casanare 10820 11502 20331 16785
2 Choco 11194 12321 20444 25093
2 Guainia 1.041 1.232 1.445 2.252
2 Guaviare 2104 2978 3204 4986
2 La Guajira 16243 17898 31675 51840
2 Putumayo 6567 9644 15776 19612
2 San Andrés 2453 2374 5220 5093
2 Vaupes 1071 1178 1184 2077
2 Vichada 1410 2040 1818 3454
Source: Calculations by the authors using data from the Registraduría Nacional del Estado Civil
8.2. Data – City councils

Effective number of parties
Eff. number
of lists
Effective number
of candidates
% of votes only
for party label
City Year 1997 2000 2003 2007 2011 1997 2000 2003 2007 2011 2003 2007 2011
Armenia
Electoral 3,0 3,7 5,2 7,6 9,6 67,5 76,8 62,8 90,9 107,2 22,0 10,7 4,3
Parliamentary 2,6 2,8 3,8 6,6 8,0
Barranquilla
Electoral 3,5 10,2 8,3 4,9 6,3 49,3 54,4 68,8 58,8 76,0 20,0 9,1 11,1
Parliamentary 2,5 6,0 4,6 3,9 5,2
Bello
Electoral 2,9 3,2 9,5 6,9 6,3 66,5 54,9 82,7 85,3 88,2 22,3 11,4 7,9
Parliamentary 2,7 2,8 5,9 5,2 5,4
Bucaramanga
Electoral 2,2 3,4 8,7 8,6 6,5 77,4 65,6 77,9 112,9 75,2 10,9 5,6 6,8
Parliamentary 1,8 4,2 5,6 5,4 4,9
Buenaventura
Electoral 1,9 3,8 6,3 7,7 8,2 77,8 56,3 57,9 75,6 84,2 15,8 6,6 8,6
Parliamentary 1,9 4,1 4,1 6,0 7,1
Cali
Electoral 2,7 5,3 7,2 7,7 8,4 60,8 53,1 67,2 81,6 80,4 20,7 13,9 11,6
Parliamentary 2,2 3,3 4,0 5,7 5,7
Cartagena
Electoral 2,5 3,5 7,7 8,2 8,8 62,3 48,2 53,2 58,0 77,3 9,3 8,9 10,5
Parliamentary 2,6 4,2 5,2 7,4 6,8
16

Cúcuta
Electoral 3,7 3,1 4,9 5,1 6,4 64,6 59,5 47,7 52,1 62,9 11,2 9,4 10,5
Parliamentary 2,3 2,4 3,3 3,9 4,9
Ibagué
Electoral 2,5 4,7 9,7 8,3 9,6 96,6 104,8 107,0 117,3 135,5 17,3 11,6 9,5
Parliamentary 2,8 3,9 4,8 6,8 7,7
Manizales
Electoral 3,9 7,6 8,6 7,8 6,4 55,2 53,3 85,4 100,8 69,0 24,3 11,5 9,7
Parliamentary 2,6 4,1 4,6 6,3 4,9
Medellín
Electoral 5,1 6,2 8,7 8,9 6,7 66,9 79,2 91,2 102,1 83,2 22,6 16,7 13,8
Parliamentary 4,8 4,0 5,1 7,2 5,3
Montería
Electoral 1,9 3,4 4,8 4,6 5,8 67,2 45,2 54,1 65,2 77,7 13,3 11,4 8,1
Parliamentary 1,6 2,2 3,2 3,6 4,7
Neiva
Electoral 3,0 5,9 7,7 7,3 7,5 77,0 77,0 88,3 102,7 91,0 11,5 5,7 10,2
Parliamentary 2,1 6,6 4,8 6,3 6,3
Palmira
Electoral 1,6 2,3 2,9 7,5 5,4 41,5 49,1 37,8 60,8 65,6 15,2 8,7 4,9
Parliamentary 1,2 1,5 1,8 4,8 3,4
Pasto
Electoral 6,5 8,0 11,5 8,1 10,4 68,2 54,1 63,8 83,0 93,4 19,1 10,9 4,9
Parliamentary 6,1 4,9 8,0 6,6 8,8
Pereira
Electoral 1,5 1,8 6,5 7,5 7,3 65,4 63,8 62,5 88,2 78,6 23,6 10,8 8,2
Parliamentary 1,2 1,4 3,6 5,9 5,9
Santa Marta
Electoral 1,7 2,5 5,7 8,7 11,1 73,0 68,7 60,2 83,5 100,7 8,4 5,8 6,4
Parliamentary 1,5 1,9 4,1 7,4 7,8
Soacha
Electoral 1,7 4,3 8,6 9,5 9,5 81,4 83,5 84,0 101,1 112,9 22,9 13,6 10,0
Parliamentary 1,4 4,1 4,5 7,4 8,4
Soledad
Electoral 2,9 6,4 5,0 5,2 6,9 79,9 51,6 48,3 60,8 71,9 12,0 7,2 9,6
Parliamentary 3,5 4,7 3,5 4,2 5,1
Valledupar
Electoral 2,5 3,2 8,0 7,5 9,1 108,0 99,6 76,5 102,0 123,0 10,5 4,7 8,2
Parliamentary 2,9 4,3 5,6 5,7 6,6
Villavicencio
Electoral 3,0 3,8 9,2 11,0 9,8 99,6 80,0 96,0 133,5 138,6 12,0 9,0 6,7
Parliamentary 3,7 2,4 6,3 8,4 8,4
Average
Electoral 2,9 4,6 7,4 7,6 7,9 71,7 65,6 70,1 86,5 90,1 16,4 9,7 8,6
Parliamentary 2,6 3,6 4,6 5,9 6,3
Source: Calculations by the authors using data from the Registraduría Nacional del Estado Civil


17

9. References