The highest priority for Virgilio Barco was to have a government formed entirely from his own Liberal Party, with the minority Conservatives relegated to the position of "loyal opposition." During the 1986 presidential campaign Barco had called for a "program- government," although it was far from clear how he could have a government consisting of only his party because Article 120 of the constitution required that the president give "adequate and equitable" participation to the party that came in second in the election. After the election he promised to follow that article, "paying attention to the political realities of the circumstances." At the same time, the leader of the Conservative Party, Misael Pastrana Borrero, proposed that his party enter into "thoughtful opposition." However, there would be bipartisan agreements on "themes of national interest" such as the guerrilla war, the drug traffic, the election of mayors, and a "statute of opposition."1 Barco later followed the letter of Article 120, offering three cabinet positions to the Conservatives. The positions were declined and a one-party government existed for the first time since that of Laureano Gómez ( 1950- 1953).
By erasing the final bit of constitutionally mandated coalition government from the National Front, Barco attempted to open up the government so groups like the guerrillas would enter politics instead of combat. Mario Latorre, member of the circle around Barco popularly called El Sanedrín (the Sanhedrin) suggested that the moment of truth had arrived: "When did Colombia get so screwed up? If the country does not take advantage of the opportunity that it has, if the Liberal party or the Conservatives, or those of the UP [ Unión Patriótical, do not