Candidate Ivan Duque has no time for debates, says campaign

Ivan Duque (L) and Gustavo Petro (Images: Twitter)

The front-runner in Colombia’s final election round, Ivan Duque, has no time for televised election debates with his opponent Gustavo Petro, his campaign told local media.

The television debates that graced the election race ended with the first round of elections on May 27.

Petro, who is behind in the polls, has invited Duque on Twitter to “maintain the presidential campaigns for the second round.”

His requests have been supported by independent analysts and media.

“If they value democracy, Ivan Duque and Gustavo Petro should do at least two debates before the second round,” said political commentator Jorge Restrepo in Twitter.

The verbals duels “are an inescapable part of the agenda of a democratic election,” political scientist Yann Basset confirmed on the social media website.

Accountability, however, has never been a quality of Colombia’s political reality and Duque’s performances in the first round debates have all but disappointed.

The conservative candidate told RCN Radio that “he doesn’t like” the narrative that the race would be “between the corrupt and the good.”

The truth, however, is likely more pragmatic.

Petro is an experienced opposition politician and debater; the conservative candidate is unlikely to consolidate his lead in the race.

Instead, his campaign told Semana magazine, Duque has been busy touring the country and independently talking to media to compare his ideas with that of his opponent.

The conservative candidate’s political patron, former President Alvaro Uribe, defended his protege on Twitter, stressing that ahead of the first election round Duque “resisted 36 debates with an opponent who frequently changed essential theses and renounced his true international support.”

Regional media, however, did not accept the explanation and sent a letter to both candidates on Thursday.

“We believe that in a democracy the citizens have the right to listen to the proposals and differences of those who aspire to lead the country’s course,” the media collective said.

The networks invited national television networks Caracol and RCN to also televise the debate on June 14, three days ahead of the final round.

Whether they will be able to convince Duque, however, remains to be seen.

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