From the nineties Colombia entered into a deep crisis, explained by high rates of poverty, violence and all that that implies, strengthening the armed (guerrilla movements and paramilitary groups), that exert control over vast regions, the violation of human rights, corruption, clientelism within public institutions, drug trafficking, and so on.
On the other hand, we see the introduction of a new economic model, with serious implications for the internal order, change was only possible with constitutional change. Low levels of development and the lack of public policies aimed at reducing social inequalities, violence did not overcome in previous decades, but on the contrary, spread in all its forms, are some of the factors that weakened the State and are associated with the internal crisis that characterized the last decade of the twentieth and early twenty-first.
Unlike other states, particularly in Latin America, the Colombian state has a long history of uninterrupted democracy. In most of the last century their governments emerged of periodic, in most of which the traditional parties alternated the exercise of power. Nevertheless, history is also marked by the phenomenon of violence and all that implies for the exercise of democracy. However, in recent decades Colombia has a deep political and economic crisis, as a result of problems that are not able to overcome in the past decades. Despite implement reforms, change the constitution and extend the forms of democratic participation, has failed to overcome the weaknesses for which he has undergone during the twentieth century, such as patronage, administrative corruption, social exclusion, lack of a provision adequate public services to a large part of the population, and the inability to have a presence throughout the country and promote development.
According Pizarro (2004), the violence of the past three decades was slowly eroding government institutions, which ultimately led to the early nineties, Colombia finished doomed to a "partial collapse of the state", a term coined by Paul Oquist (1978) to refer to the impact of the phenomenon of violence inside bipartisan state institutions in the 50s. In the nineties this state crisis is explained by the armed conflict, high rates of poverty, unemployment, lack of public policies, the economic crisis and the violation of human rights.
The characterization of "partial collapse of the state" in the nineties is based on the high crime rates, the deterioration of state institutions, the loss of independence of the legislative and judiciary from the executive, supported mainly by the Forces armed and security, the little state presence throughout the various social asymmetries and state corruption. these factors were not overcome during the twentieth century, however, worsened in the last decade.
Within the contemporary debate approaches are Daniel Pecaut (2003), who defined the moment as "precarious state", explained by the permanence of the system inherited from the National Front and the lack of rule over vast areas of the country, what has been left open for private use of force by institutions such as the guerrilla movements.
For Ann Mason (2002), a strong state would be one with a functional and effective government institutions for the provision of security, law, justice and basic services highly consolidated control over the territory and population groups, a governmental power sufficient to fend off challenges to his authority, and an exercise of force on behalf of the State considered legitimate.
On the history of the National Front can consult Hartlyn, Jonathan. The politics of coalition regime: the experience of the National Front in Colombia. Third World Editors. 1993.
In the case of Colombia, democracy operates so that the state lacks the fundamental ability to guarantee the basic rights and freedoms, which is particularly evident in recent decades. This is explained by the loss of civil liberties, lack of opportunities for participation in decision-making and the fragmentation of society to these problems are added to the economic downturn and increased spending on defense and security, leaving side social spending, which has increased considerably poverty and unemployment.
In this bleak are added other variables that allow the exercise of democracy. Violence by armed groups has impacted on democracy and elections in some parts of the country, particularly at local and regional level. Furthermore, "civil society has lost interest in participating in local elections due to the presence of armed actors that control certain areas and political force" (Mason, 2002: 68). At the national level, democracy is hampered by cronyism, corruption and lack of social commitment.
These factors have led to the proposal that in Colombia there is a crisis of legitimacy of the regime and the party system, which has generated little confidence in state institutions as a result of exclusionary system imposed by the National Front. This led to the perceived need to set up in the early nineties a new institutional. This restructuring was supported by the deep crisis of legitimacy and leadership within the institutions and the political system in the last three decades. This was reflected in "high levels of violence, lack of public confidence in public institutions, and the absence of a ruling class with a project that includes the different national interests" (Orjuela, 1998).