The candidates of the Democratic Pole (Polo Democratico), the Conservative Party (Partido Conservador), and the Green Alliance (Alianza Verde) will consult their supporters to determine their endorsements heading into the second round of Colombia’s presidential elections, scheduled for June 15.
Clara Lopez (Democratic Pole), Martha Lucia Ramirez (Conservative Party), and Enrique Peñalosa (Green Party) will now have to decide whether to throw their weight behind incumbent President Juan Manuel Santos (U Party — Partido de la U) or Oscar Ivan Zuluaga (Democratic Center — Centro Democratico), the candidates set to take place in the June runoff.
In a surprise result, Zuluaga walked away from Sunday’s elections as the frontrunner, with a simple majority of 29%. Santos, meanwhile, who has led in polls throughout the presidential race, followed close behind with 25%.
According to the El Heraldo newspaper, Martha Lucia Ramirez, who came in third place, announced that in the election’s second round her party will continue to ensure that conservatism “returns to its proper place.”
“Today Colombia will say goodbye to a country with corruption and drug trafficking, and we will usher in an inclusive country with opportunities,” Ramirez stated.
Speaking of the low voter turn-out — only 40% of the population voted — Ramirez said, “The partial results show that we are saying goodbye to a corrupt country.
“We are not supporting corrupt political machinery […] I will not be endorsing anyone until I have reached a decision with the team’s of the Conservative Party,” Caracol Radio reported Ramirez as saying.
Clara Lopez, who came in a close fourth behind Ramirez, said that the election results hinted at a resurgence of the left. “A few months ago nobody had any belief lieve in Colombia’s democratic left. They considered us extinct, and now we can say […] that we have risen like a phoenix out of the ashes.
“More than a million votes for a clean campaign,” she added, “It is a movement of all the parties seeking a different policy.”
Lopez received double the votes that the members of her party obtained in Colombia’s congressional elections, El Heraldo reported.
Enrique Peñlosa, who received the least votes of the five candidates, said he will make the decision on who to endorse with his team.
“Whichever decision I make in the future I will make in the team,” the Green Party candidate stated.
As Peñalosa represents the most centrist option of the candidates, the more than one million votes obtained by him will play a significant role in determining the outcome of the run-off between Santos and Zuluaga.
Marta Lucia Ramirez effectively tied for third place with the Democratic Pole (Polo Democratico – PD) party’s Clara Lopez. Both received 15% of the vote, though Ramirez received about 40,000 more than the socialist-leaning candidate.
Enrique Peñalosa was the definitive loser of Sundays elections, commanding a dismal 8.3% of the vote. The Green Alliance (Alianza Verde – AV) candidate who was just a month ago tied in polls with victor Zuluaga — and once favored to defeat Santos in a second round –failed to mobilize Colombians on all fronts.
It is unclear to what extent the former candidates will be able to mobilize their bases for any endorsement.
Ramirez’s political ideology is more in line with that of Zuluaga, who has opposed ongoing peace talks between the Santos administration and the FARC rebel group, the country’s largest. Voters for the leftist Lopez, meanwhile, though generally in favor of the peace talks, may not be easy to convince to switch allegiances to Santos.
The notably independent voting bloc that supported Peñalosa has not typically belonged to any political machinery.