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Title: Conservative Party in Colombia, 1930-1953
Author: Abel, Christopher
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 1974
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This thesis consists of a set of interrelated essays that illustrate the persistence of the Conservative party in Colombia in the early twentieth century. No particular landmarks or turning-points can be identified in recent Colombian history. The dates 1930 and 1953 are, therefore, in part, dates of convenience: but they carry some, if limited, significance. In 1930 the Conservative party was ousted from office after over forty years of office, and was replaced by a coalition government with a Liberal president. In 1953 a Conservative government was again removed from power: on this occasion by a military government with an initially Conservative complexion. The period chosen makes possible the study of the Conservative party in contrasting postures: in opposition, in power and in coalition with Liberals. Because the period of study is no more clearly defined than this references outside it have been made freely The work has been organized in the following manner: Chapter One performs a double function. It contains both a general narrative of political events at a national level and an examination of mutations in the relationships between and within the elites of the two parties: Conservative and Liberal. An extensive treatment serves to underline the flexibility and durability of the Conservative party: the strivings of its members after a distinct party identity, their attitudes to coalition, the practice of co-option and economic policy are discussed. Regional and local considerations have been mentioned in this section only where they bear immediately on party relationships at a national level. The Colombian political elite, in the period under review, put a heavy stress upon abstract political speculation. Chapter Two gives an account of how ideological postures were used to substantiate partisan and personal positions and of how ideological restatements gave sporadic sensations of renewal to the Conservative party. Chapters Three and Four consider the relationships between the Conservative party and principal institutions - the Church, the army and the police. The role of the Church was crucial because it was expected by Conservatives - at least, until 1949 - to act as the primary bulwark of the social and political order. Despite its claim to a single identity, the Church rarely behaved coherently, largely as a consequence of contrasting regional patterns of social, religious and political behaviour. The ways these were projected nationally are considered at length. The failure of the Church to maintain the public order led Conservatives to fall back on the army and police. Liberals, for much of the period studied, considered the army to be a Conservative institution and built up the police as a countervailing force. Certain Conservatives strove to preserve the army as a partisan institution, and, from 1946, tried to convert the police force into a Conservative instrument. The destabilizing impact of the relationships of the parties with the coercive arms of the state is considered; and the relationship of civilian Conservative and miltary leaders before the coup of 1953 is stressed. Chapter Five contains a brief study of Conservatives and elections. It falls into two parts: some qualitative statements about electoral behaviour are substantiated by some quantitative data. Chapter Six considers the national leadership of the Conservative party by focusing upon two of its outstanding figures: Laureano Gómez, unequalled leader in the period undertaken and president in 1950, who represented the tradition of confrontation at its most persistent and articulate; and Mariano Ospina Pérez, president in 1946 and arguably the most important Conservative figure after 1953, who represented a tradition of conciliation and concession. Some conclusions about patterns of leadership with reference to other Conservative leaders then follow. Conservative activity in the regions is considered in Chapter Seven. The department of Antioquia receives particular attention, and the Santanders some. This section stresses variations in political style and underlines the proclivity of the party structure to fission and breakdown. Some general perspectives on the Conservative party then follow. Appendix One contains a brief account of the role of the press in Colombia. Appendices Two and Three serve to illustaate the election materials in Chapter Five. An extensive bibliography should go some way towards correcting the paucity of bibliographical aids on twentieth-century Colombia.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Conservatism--Colombia ; Political parties--Colombia ; Colombia--Politics and government--1930-1946 ; Colombia--Politics and government--1946-1974