All five of the candidates in Colombia’s presidential election have officially cast their votes, local media reported at midday Sunday.
Incumbent President Juan Manuel Santos was the first to fill the ballot early Sunday morning in Bogota’s Plaza Bolivar, where he called on the country’s citizens to “strengthen” Colombia’s democracy and exercise their voting rights.
|Colombia’s 2014 elections|
Santos cast his vote shortly after polling stations opened across the country and asserted that voting is the only way to achieve “improvement” of the country’s democratic system, La FM Radio reported.
Accompanied by his vice-presidential candidate, Carlos Holmes Trujillio, Zuluaga told reporters, “Not voting is not a solution” to the country’s problems.
Clara Lopez, the candidate from the leftist Democratic Pole (Polo Democratico) party, voted at the Panamerica University in Bogota.
Lopez was accompanied by her running mate, Aida Avella, who returned to Colombia in late 2013 after 17 years of exile. Avella survived the second attempt on her life by suspected right-wing paramilitary groups in 1996 —the reason behind her flight from Colombia — and another by left-wing guerrillas in February 2014, which the rebels later acknowledged had been a mistake.
“We need a change in Colombia. I invite you to vote for change. We have great expectations and great confidence that we will be the change,” the El Colombiano newspaper reported Lopez as saying.
Conservative Party (Partido Conservador) candidate Martha Lucia Ramirez voted in Bogota’s La Calera neighborhood, while Green Alliance (Alianza Verde) candidate Enrique Peñalosa went to the Konrad Lorenz University, urging voters to support a government that seeks “the best for the country.”
Peñalosa told voters to “vote with their hearts” and to liberate the country from the “tentacles of political corruption.”
“Today we are not electing a president,” he said, referring to statistics that indicate no candidate will reach an absolute majority in Sunday’s election, thereby requiring a second round runoff between the two leading candidates to emerge from Sunday’s contests. “We are electing two candidates who will go to the second round.”
The most recent poll, released by Datexco just before the cut off — according to law, no polls can be released a week leading up to the elections — showed a narrowing gap between the incumbent, Santos, and Zuluaga, with a wide range separating the frontrunners from the rest of the field.
If the polls prove correct, the second round of elections will be held on June 15.
- Candidatos ya ejercieron su derecho al voto (El Colombiano)