The prospect of another election must seem tempting to Uribe, given the dearth of serious challengers. Come Election Day, the biggest threat will likely come from "no one." Jaime Castro, a constitutional lawyer and former mayor of Bogotá, is trying to unite opposition to a second Uribe term around a blank vote. If more than 50 percent of votes cast are blank, a new round of voting is called for, with the original candidates barred from standing again.
On one front, though, Uribe is vulnerable. The economy is slowing, growing less than expected and well below the rate of Colombia's neighbors. Colombia has Latin America's third-largest population, but the fifth-largest economy. Unemployment remains stubbornly in the double digits, and over 60 percent of the population live on or below the poverty line. Uribe, focused on destroying Colombia's violence, says that once the civil war and cocaine industry are quelled, investment will come streaming in. For all the improvements in security, Colombians have yet to see much change in their pockets.
Colombia's debate over a second term reflects a larger struggle between a boundless optimism that says the age of poor rulers is over and that the nation can look forward to giving its leaders the time needed to make changes, and a world-weary pessimism that says the good is ephemeral but the bad lingers on. When Colombians go to the polls in 18 months, it seems likely that optimism will win out, saving pessimism's return for a later date.
TODAY IN SLATE
Meet the New Bosses
How the Republicans would run the Senate.
The Government Is Giving Millions of Dollars in Electric-Car Subsidies to the Wrong Drivers
Scotland Is Just the Beginning. Expect More Political Earthquakes in Europe.
Cheez-Its. Ritz. Triscuits.
Why all cracker names sound alike.
Friends Was the Last Purely Pleasurable Sitcom
This Whimsical Driverless Car Imagines Transportation in 2059
- Protesters Take to the Streets to Sound Alarm on Climate Change in New York, Across the World
- Knife-Carrying White House Jumper is Vet who Feared “Atmosphere Was Collapsing”
- North Korea: American Sentenced to Hard Labor Wanted to Become “Second Snowden”
- Almost One in Four Americans Support Idea of Splitting From the Union
Did America Get Fat by Drinking Diet Soda?
A high-profile study points the finger at artificial sweeteners.