Colombia’s Conservative party has shunned President Juan Manuel Santos in his 2014 bid for re-election, instead pledging its support on Friday to former Foreign Trade and Defense Minister, Marta Lucia Ramirez, according to national media sources.
During an eventful national convention riddled with hiccups last Friday, Colombia’s Conservative Party chose to back lawyer and politician Marta Lucia Ramirez for the 2014 presidential elections over President Santos, electing her in a landslide vote.
PROFILE: Marta Lucia Ramirez
Ramirez had been a conservative pre-candidate in 2010 but was beaten to a spot at national elections. This time, she reportedly obtained an overwhelming majority of conservative support with 1,047 votes, versus 138 for Pablo Victoria and 84 for Alvaro Leyva, the two other pre-candidates for the party.
The nation’s Uribistas – supporters of former President and candidate for the Colombian Senate Alvaro Uribe Velez’s political ideologies – welcomed the news, foreseeing a possible alliance with Ramirez should their own presidential candidate, Oscar Ivan Zuruaga, enter a second round of run-off elections against Santos.
In convention, the conservatives voted against an alliance, preferring to present their own candidate to elections. Still, it is unclear who the party would throw its weight behind in the event of a face-to-face between Santos, who also vied for the party’s nomination, and Zuluaga, who is more in line with the party’s traditional politics.
For now, though, the party focus is on Ramirez.
“The Conservative Party will come in at the first round and it will triumph,” Ramirez was quoted as saying at the convention. “The soul of the Colombian is conservative, with values, and feels pain at how society has lost these.
Ramirez was confident about winning not only the first round of elections come May 25, but the entire race for head of state.
“I’m sure I will win the Presidency in order to give Colombia hope again.”
The conservative leader assured that she “knows what pains the Colombian people […] uncertainty, they’re hurt that they’re not being informed with clarity about [the peace talks taking place in] Havana [between the FARC rebels and Colombian government], about many other things, we know what lies in the souls of the Colombian people.”
The only female Defense Minister in Colombian history made no comment on who she is considering for her potential vicepresident and ministers, though she made it known that the country “will be surprised, because it will be a top-class cabinet.”
This decision to nominate Ramirez over Santos could reveal a certain fractioning within the coalition Social Party of National Unity, or Party of the U, which brings together the Conservative Party and the Liberal Party and was founded and is currently presided over by Juan Manuel Santos himself.
The shaky voting system at the Conservative Party’s convention meant that the delegates were obliged to repeat the first stage, which asked whether they preferred to pledge support to their own candidate, or to seek an alliance.
The conservatives reportedly voted 1,190 to 199 to back their own candidate.