Item 2 contains the agreement regarding political participation. This agreement is a unique opportunity to advance in the broadening and deepening of our democratic system.
Though the nation took big steps toward a true democratic opening with the 1991 Political Constitution—allowing new political parties and movements to enter the political arena, as well as proclaiming fundamental values and principles that have strengthened political institutions—, many of those values and principles have not materialized, largely due to the internal armed conflict. As such, it was necessary to reach some agreements regarding this subject.
This agreement is built upon three ideas:
- A new democratic openness is necessary to promote political inclusion and allow new voices and new political projects to emerge. This political inclusion must carry complete guarantees of transparency and equity in the rules of the game, so that new voices and projects competing in the democratic arena can reach consensus regarding important national concerns and can enrich debate.
There is a need for reforms that establish rights and guarantees for the exercise of political opposition, in general, and for new movements that emerge, in particular, after the signing of the Final Agreement. The main objective of this is to sever the connection between politics and arms.
Those guarantees include, among other things: the safety of vulnerable groups that intend to participate in national, regional or local politics, in any sector; equitable access to financing and media, whereby political minorities can exercise their legitimate right to opposition; and the guarantees necessary for entering and remaining within the democratic establishment, since the current rules for political participation work against minority groups and hinder a consistent party line.
Finally, considering that many of the regions that were most directly affected by the conflict were not able to have meaningful representation within institutions like the Congress of the Republic, and with the goal of promoting political inclusion, the agreement created Special Transitional Peace Constituencies for certain regions to elect additional representatives in the Chamber.
- The consolidation of peace also requires greater citizen participation, in accordance with the spirit of the 1991 Constitution.
Peace is built by people in their lands. To make this possible, there must be a strengthening of participatory processes, not only to ensure that participation is an effective means of formulating policies and implementing the agreements, but also so that individuals can negotiate their public demands in an effective way and, ultimately, contribute to the collective construction of peace “from the bottom up.”
The aim is for citizens to actively participate in decision making, as well as to evaluate and monitor the affairs of those who govern. Inasmuch as citizens feel they are a part of the decisions that affect them and can direct their concerns through democratic channels, this is a guarantee of non-repetition of the violence
- The basic condition for consolidating peace, through the exercise of democracy, consists in permanently breaking the link between politics and arms. This means that weapons will never again be used to promote a political cause and, likewise, that whoever has laid down arms, to transition to politics, is fully guaranteed his or her safety and will not be a victim of violence.
The preceding applies not only to those who have laid down arms, but to all those who are politically active. This concerns nothing less than dignifying and protecting political exercise as a pillar of constructing peace.
At the same time, it is necessary to strengthen guarantees for political opposition, thus creating conditions more favorable to the exercise of basic democratic principles, like the transfer of power.