Former Finance Minister Oscar Ivan Zuluaga was elected presidential candidate for former President Alvaro Uribe‘s new political party on Saturday.
Nuestro candidato a la Presidencia de la República es el doctor Oscar Iván Zuluaga.
— CENTRO DEMOCRÁTICO (@CeDemocratico) October 27, 2013
The former minister received 56% of the votes at the Uribe Centro Democratico convention in Bogota, beating former VP Francisco Santos and former Interior Minister Carlos Holmes Trujillo. The organization did not reveal the obtained percentages of the remaining two candidates.
PROFILE: Oscar Ivan Zuluaga
Zuluaga’s victory came as a surprise as all polls preceding the convention tipped Santos as winner. A poll released Friday, one day ahead of the election, said 55% of those interviewed would vote for Santos and only 11% would vote for Zuluaga. The poll even said that Santos would beat his cousin, current President Juan Manuel Santos, if elections were held now.
Zuluaga will now join Uribe on a campaign tour through Colombia to promote the party’s ambition to “retake power” they consider lost after current president Juan Manuel Santos distanced himself from his predecessor and sailed an explicitly centrist course to the dislike of Uribe who, apart from losing political power, saw an increasing number of his political allies end up in prison over corruption and ties to paramilitary death squads.
The former president and his new candidate are also under criminal investigation for their alleged dealings with groups belonging to paramilitary umbrella organization AUC.
Zuluaga has until May to campaign for Uribe and promote the former president’s policy proposals that are similar to the ones Uribe promoted in 2002 during his first successful election run: public security, investor confidence and social cohesion.
The candidate will also fiercely oppose ongoing peace talks with rebel group FARC.
Uribe and his allies demand a suspension of the talks and force the FARC to agree to a unilateral ceasefire before possibly resuming the talks.
The primary election did not go as smooth as the “Uribistas” hoped for and in spite of Uribe’s “guarantee” for a fair election; The candidates fell out after Zuluaga accused an undisclosed competitor of bribing attendees to root for him.