This study examines trends in electoral behaviour in relation to the process of decentralisation in Colombian municipalities. Through a statistical analysis, it attempts to explain the relationship between the variables of level of participation, effective number of parties, level of decentralisation, degree of socio-economic development, and levels of violence. The analysis of these aspects allows an identification of the direct or indirect effects of political decentralisation upon local electoral democracy. The principle thesis of the study is that electoral variables cannot be explained purely in terms of decentralisation; but nevertheless, along with the above mentioned factors, these have a relative influence over the observed trends in the formal political system. It is worth highlighting from the findings two aspects: firstly, that for Colombian municipalities as a whole, the hypothesis that fiscal decentralisation acts as an incentive for the formation of new political movements, competing for public resources, has not been proved; and secondly, that armed conflict and violence have negative effects for the exercising of the right to vote. Political control through armed means becomes consolidated through direct influence over voters; or degenerates in confrontations between distinct armed groups, which impedes political participation through institutional channels.
Hoyos, D.; Ceballos, M. Working Paper No.57. Electoral Behaviour Trends and Decentralisation in Colombia’s Municipalities, 1988-2000. (2004) 31 pp.