From 1958 to 1986, Colombian politics were characterised by a series of coalition governments. This book analyses the historical antecedents, establishment and subsequent evolution of the political regime created in 1958. For most of this period, the country was governed by a National Front power-sharing system between the Conservatives and the Liberals, the country's two major parties. This system was initially established to prevent a return to the intense violence between the parties that had earlier led to a political breakdown and military rule. In crucial respects, the Colombian governing arrangement was similar to a number of other cases of coalition governments (termed consociational democracies), to which it is compared in the book.