Presidential election likely to go to second round


If the polls are to be believed, the unimaginable a year ago is likely to happen today; the Presidential election will go to a second round with Óscar Iván Zuluaga of the right –wing Democratic Center (CD) in the lead and incumbent, President Juan Manuel Santos, in a close second place.

Six months ago Santos had an unassailable lead of 36%, with second man Zuluaga on 14.2%. But a bitter general election on 9th March and an even more bitter presidential election has closed the gap.

Zuluaga is the choice of former President Álvaro Uribe.

Uribe and Santos were close friends and the architects of the spectacular economic recovery of Colombia during Uribe’s two terms as president (2002 – 2010). But when Santos became president in 2010 he chose to enter into peace talks with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia—People’s Army (FARC) and other armed groups. Uribe disagreed and from there the rivalry and disagreements have polarised Colombian voters.

The campaigns of the two men have also been tainted by scandals, with accusations of money from drug dealers and computer hacking affecting the aides of both candidates.

But there are five candidates standing in the election. These include President Santos who is standing under the banner of ‘National Unity’ and is supported by his own party the Social Party of National Unity (Party of the U), the Colombian Liberal Party (PLC) and Radical Change (CR).

The other candidates are:

• Clara López; Alternative Democratic Pole (POLO or PDA) and the Patriotic Union (UP) – centre-left
• Óscar Iván Zuluaga; Democratic Center (CD) – right-wing
• Marta Lucía Ramírez; Colombian Conservative Party (PCC) – right-wing
• Enrique Peñalosa; Green Alliance – Green

In 2010 Juan Manuel Santos took 46.68% of the vote in the first round and 69.13% in the second round, beating Green Party candidate Antanas Mockus. Turnout was 44.33%.

Today the 32,975,158 eligible voters will vote at 88,659 polling stations between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. local time. If no candidate gets more than 50% of the vote in the first round then there will be a second round runoff on 15th June.

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