Nearly 30 million Colombians in both their homeland and 58 other countries can vote for Congress on Sunday. The election will determine the composition of Congress and will show presidential hopefuls with what parties they will have to form a coalition to obtain majority support in both the House of Respresentatives and the Senate.
Before the elections began, the National Electoral Council already received complaints of all sides of vote-buying and the illegal pushing of candidates by state officials and entities. The “buying” of votes is widely considered a normal practice in Colombian politics. According to a recent survey, 20 percent of those eligible to vote in Colombia has been offered money or favors in return for a vote.
All those voting will also be able to take part in the primaries of the coalition Conservative Party and oppositon Green Party. Especially the result of the Conservative primary is important for the presidential election as pre-candidate Andres Felipe Arias has always supported a re-election of current president Alvaro Uribe, while his competitor Noemi Sanin rejected a third term of the president and showed a more independent stance from Uribista parties.
Colombia’s Constitutional Court two weeks ago rejected a referendum needed for Uribe’s third election bid.
The composition of Congress and the behavior of the Conservative Party candidate will be of great importance after the May 30 first round of the presidential elections, when the two remaining candidates are going to need the endorsement of the defeated candidates in a possible second round. Also, the composition of Congress will then finally determine the composition of the governing coalition and its opposition.
In recent polls, none of the current candidates is considered able to win in the first round.