BOGOTA – Ivan Duque for the Colombian right and former Bogota Mayor Gustavo Petro for the left will be the presidential candidates fielded by the two political blocs – as per the results of Sunday’s primaries and legislative balloting – and will vie to succeed President Juan Manuel Santos in the national election on May 27.
According to national election authorities, with about 81.3 percent of the vote counted, Duque, with the Democratic Center party, has obtained some 3.28 million votes, or 67.8 percent, in the primary for the rightist Great Alliance for Colombia, handily defeating his two coalition rivals: conservatives Marta Lucia Ramirez and Alejandro Ordoñez.
Given that Ramirez is in second place with more than 1.2 million votes (about 25%), she will be Duque’s running mate in the May election, while ultraconservative Alejandro Ordoñez drew some 314,000 votes, at latest count.
On the other side of the political spectrum, the leftist Social Inclusion for Peace coalition has seen Petro – a former M-19 guerrilla – capture more than 2.3 million votes (84.77% of those cast for the bloc), markedly outdistancing his lone rival, former Santa Maria Mayor Carlos Caicedo.
Sunday’s nationwide balloting was marked by complaints of irregularities by rightist supporters of former President Alvaro Uribe – who heads the Democratic Center party – and by Petro, who accused the government of not providing enough ballots at all precincts.
Colombians also went to the polls on Sunday to select new members of both houses of Congress.
Some 36 million Colombians were eligible to vote in the 11,229 precincts established around the country in what were hoped to be the most peaceful elections in decades now that a peace treaty has been signed between the government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) guerrillas and a unilateral ceasefire has been declared by the country’s other large rebel group, the National Liberation Army (ELN).
The elections included the unprecedented participation of the Revolutionary Alternative Common Force party, the former FARC guerrillas but known by the same initials, and the balloting is widely seen as a test of the group’s political viability in the post-conflict stage.
As per the peace agreement, the FARC is guaranteed five Senate and five Chamber of Deputies seats, but it could potentially increase that representation if it can draw its supporters to the polls.
A total of 102 senators and 166 deputies will be elected on Sunday for the legislative session that begins on July 20.