A Tale of Two Campaigns: Political Crises and Electoral Strategies in Colombia During the Elections of Presidents Cesar Gaviria in 1990 and Ernesto Samper in 1994

Document Type



Master of Arts (MA)


Latin American and Caribbean Studies

First Advisor's Name

Eduardo A. Gamarra

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Chair

Second Advisor's Name

Astrid Arraras

Third Advisor's Name

Mike Collier

Date of Defense



This study holds that recurring political crises prior to Colombian elections broadly shape electoral strategies. Through reviewing the history of Colombia, political crises emerge as a salient characteristic that precedes most elections and affects electoral strategies. To measure the impact of political crisis on electoral strategies, two Colombian presidential campaigns were analyzed: that of César Gaviria in 1990 and of Ernesto Samper in 1994. The examination of descriptive data, from both case studies and interviews with key political consultants, were used to identify how political crises have resulted in the modifications of the campaigns.

The findings showed that the electoral strategies for the two cases were adapted or modified due to the extreme conditions resulting from crises, such as the assassination of three presidential candidates before the 1990 election. The study concludes that crises led to the modification of electoral strategies in three specific areas: preparation of the campaigns, organization of the strategies, and in campaign themes and advertising images.



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