Campaign slogans and catch phrases play an important role in how an election candidate is perceived and remembered. U.S. President Barack Obama used the phrase “Yes we can” to express his platform of change and successfully acquire the keys to the White House.
With campaigning for the presidency scheduled to close at midnight Sunday, examining the slogans and phrases of the Colombian presidential candidates provides insight into their world view, their broad-stroke plans and how they intend to govern the nation.
Juan Manuel Santos
“Going back is not an option” was the primary slogan used by Partido de la U candidate Juan Manuel Santos and represents his key platform of continuity – that he will continue with current President Alavro Uribe’s agenda. “We must continue to advance” is another of his catch phrases which echoes this platform.
With the phrase “from democratic security to democratic prosperity,” Santos again alludes to his continued adhesion to Uribe’s policy of democratic security, but also suggests that he will build on this policy to create an affluent Colombia.
After Green Party candidate Antanas Mockus‘ “green wave” swept Colombia and the former Bogota mayor overtook Santos in the polls, the Uribista affected a campaign revamp and a change of his key slogan. Santos’ new mantra “United with Juan Manuel” reflects his attempts to attract the youth vote by the slogan’s casual tone, as well as remind the public that he is the Uribista candidate.
“The policy of democratic security has proved to be successful” and “thank you President” are other phrases Santos uses to express his dedication to Uribism.
“Sacred people, sacred resources,” is one of the phrases most repeated by Mockus. With this phrase the Green Party candidate draws on religious discourse to express his privileging of human rights, and uses it to stress the importance of civic responsibility in a society, which he believes is lacking in Colombia, causing many social problems.
“The end does not justify the means” is another Mockus phrase, in which he inverts the famous quote by Italian philosopher Niccolo Machiavelli to express his belief that social norms should not be disregarded in order for a goal to be achieved.
“Unity is strength” expresses Mockus’ hope that his alliance with former Medellin mayor, pre-presidential candidate, and now his vice presidential candidate, will provide a strong support base from which to govern.
“Arguments come, arguments go,” reflects Mockus’ belief that the nation should decide on matters through discussion and debate, not violence and force.
With the words “Behind the tank should be the tractor” Conservative Party candidate Noemi Sanin expresses her proposal for rural security in Colombia. This phrase indicates both her plan to build on Uribe’s model of democratic security and provide more opportunities for farmers.
“A cow in Europe shouldn’t live better than a person in Colombia,” is another phrase Sanin has used recently to express the same sentiment. This phrase draws on the phrase “It is better business to be a cow in Holland than a person in Colombia,” used by former Colombian President Ernesto Samper when he was running for the presidency. Sanin has been critical of Colombia’s free trade agreement with the European Union, due to concerns that it will be detrimental to the national dairy industry.
Sanin also uses the acronyms TPP (Work, Produce, Progress in English) and TAC (Anti-Corruption Tribunal) to reference her policies, as well as “We are going to create the Ministry for Women,” to highlight her prioritization of women’s issues.
The former ambassador’s rarely uses her official campaign slogan “With Noemi, You win, Colombia Wins.”
“We are going to separate the mafia from politics” and “The productive land needs to be snatched back from the mafia” are two key phrases Polo Democratico’s Gustavo Petro uses to express his rejection of paramilitary insertion into the political arena, and the effect that this has had, particularly on rural Colombians.
These phrases call to mind some of his most memorable debates as a congressman, in which he denounced the “parapolitics” scandal, as well as corruption, drug trafficking, paramilitarism and other illegal armed groups.
Left-wing Petro distinguishes himself from the other candidates by stressing the need to change Colombia’s economic model with the phrase “Social policy needs to be separated from the market” in order to “draw Colombia out from the war.”
“The safe change,” “We remember the future,” and “Social justice for all” are other key phrases that express the former M-19 guerrilla’s agenda for social change.” Petro proposes to make these changes by the democratization of credit, subsidies for food producers, the negotiation of penalities for drug traffickers instead of indemnification, justice and truth for victims and the recuperation of State legitimity and legality.
German Vargas Lleras
“Better is possible” is the key slogan used by Cambio Radical candidate German Vargas Lleras. With this phrase Vargas Lleras attempts to identify himself as a staunch “Uribista” who will continue with Uribe’s democratic security plan. However some analysts say that his slogan has missed the mark, and Vargas Lleras does not seem to have captured the majority of Uribistas’ support, despite the fact his policies are some fo the most well thought out and developed of all the candidates.
Some view Vargas Lleras as having shot himself in the foot by opposing Uribe’s re-election referendum and thereby ruining his chances as taking over as Uribe’s successor, a position instead assumed by Santos.
Vargas Lleras also tries to assert his pro-Uribe stance with the phrase “I was the first to support democratic security and I will be the last to leave it.”
“We are going to make a fair Colombia” is Liberal Party candidate Rafael Pardo‘s key slogan, which encompasses his social justice platform of more employment opportunities, dramatic changes to the health system and urban security. Throughout his campaign Pardo has stuck to his slogan without modification, because he believes that with it he will maintain stable Liberal Party support (almost 1,800,000 Liberals turned out to vote in Colombia’s last presidential election).
Campaigning for the Colombian presidency will close Sunday evening. From midnight Sunday, candidates are prohibited by law from staging public appearances until the elections on May 30. They are still permitted to broadcast campaign advertisments and can give interviews, but are prohibited from directly canvassing voter support.
In the last voter poll conducted for these presidential elections, Santos places first in the first round election with 34% of voter support, while Mockus has 32%. In a potential second round election face-off between Mockus and Santos, the poll indicates that Mockus would win the presidency with 45% of voter support.
In the event that no candidate wins the presidential elections outright with 50% plus one of the vote on May 30, the two most-voted-for candidates will go head to head in a second round election. In a potential second round, the candidate who receives the most votes will win the presidency. A 50% plus one majority is not required.