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Historic Coffee Grower Elections turnout to elect FNC local, regional and national bodies

Bogota, September 18 2014 (FNC Press) – During the Coffee Grower Elections, which were held on September 6th and 7th, Colombian coffee growers elected the 4,620 leaders who will represent them for the upcoming four years. This democratic process is considered the world’s largest private democratic event and covers the more than half of Colombia´s municipalities.

Out of the 15,864 candidates, coffee growers elected the senior and alternate members of 370 Municipal Coffee Grower Committees, 15 Departmental Coffee Grower Committees and those who will represent them before the National Congress of Coffee Growers for the next 4 years.

The voter turnout of these elections had never been registered in the history of the Colombian Coffee Growers Federation (FNC). It reached 67.3% (a total of 251,913 voters), meaning a 17.5% increase compared to the voter turnout of 2010 Coffee Grower Elections. This figure even surpassed voter turnout of the latest Presidential elections of Colombia, the United States and Mexico as well as the Parliamentary elections of Japan, Canada and the United Kingdom (see table). 

These indicators are even more meaningful when considering that in order to reach the polling stations, coffee growers coming from remote areas had to walk, cross creeks and use public transportation.

“Representing Colombia’s coffee growers is an honor for me. It gives a meaning to my life,” stated Juan B. Solarte, a coffee grower from the department of Cauca who was elected senior member of the Departmental Coffee Growers Committee in 2010’s Coffee Grower Elections.

According to Pedro P. Robledo, member of the Municipal Coffee Growers Committee of Jamundí, “The fact that coffee growers are exercising their right to vote is essential. I consider the Coffee Grower Elections to be the most important after Presidential and Congress elections because we can democratically elect those who are going to represent us in a national, departmental and municipal level.”

The election’s representativeness is further reflected by the fact that it covered a total of 568 municipalities in 17 departments. This is a broader area than that covered by the national elections of countries including Ecuador and Chile. 

It is also important to highlight that 87% and 56% of the candidates who will comprise the Municipal and Departmental Coffee Grower Committees respectively are smallholders whose farms have less than 5 hectares.

“Voter turnout in these elections has once again demonstrated the legitimacy of the FNC, the institution at the service of coffee growers. This democratic process shields the representativeness and governability of the FNC and unites and strengthens the sector,” said Luis G. Muñoz, CEO of the FNC.

Participation of women and youth

Participation amongst women and youth in 2014’s Coffee Grower Elections increased compared to past elections. Women leadership in Municipal Committees increased from 13.6% in 2010 to 15.7% in 2014. Similarly, in Departmental Committees, it rose from 6.8% in 2010 to 8% in 2014.

“I decided to present a women-only list for these elections. Strong leadership and having our heads high allowed us to achieve very good results. I thank the FNC for always contributing to the development of our community and of Colombia,” said María A. Suárez, coffee grower from the municipality of Buenavista who was chosen as senior member of the Departmental Coffee Growers Committee of Boyacá.   

In regard to youth, these elections revealed that the number of young people participating is increasing. 83% and 75% of the elected members for Departmental and Municipal Coffee Growing Committees respectively are under 60 years old.

The FNC guaranteed the transparency of the electoral process

 For the first time in the history of the FNC, an independent Delegated Manager organized the Coffee Grower Elections. With the support of the FNC’s regional partners, 7,164 jurors, 48 independent members of the Vote Counting Commission and the Electoral Observation Mission (EOM), the elections guaranteed the transparency of the electoral process.   

Alejandra Barrios, National Director of the Observation Mission, stated, “Colombian coffee growers can rest assured that transparency prevailed in these elections.”

Juan C. Galindo, Delegated Manager for the 2014 Coffee Grower Elections, concluded, “EOM reports and testimonies from the jurors and members of the Vote Counting Commission confirm that the FNC organized a participatory, transparent and exemplary election where coffee growers could express their decisions and elect their representatives.”

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