The seven candidates for Colombia’s 2010 presidential election took part in a two-hour long television debate on Wednesday evening.
In the two hour RCN broadcast, Juan Manuel Santos (Partido de la U), Noemi Sanin (Conservative Party), Rafael Pardo (Liberal Party), German Vargas Lleras (Cambio Radical), Gustavo Petro (Polo Democratico), Sergio Fajardo (Compromiso Ciudadano) and Antanas Mockus (Green Party) were subjected to questions by interviewers and international journalists and analysts. The candidates also took part in one-on-one’s to show the differences in policies.
It was the first time all candidates had been together in the run-up to the May 30 presidential election.
All hopefuls promised a continuation of the current government’s security policy that over the past eight years succeeded in pushing left-wing guerrillas out of the cities and demobilizing the country’s largest paramilitary organization AUC. However, all candidates did also say the security policy had to be accompanied by better social policies.
Vargas Lleras, Petro, Pardo, Mockus and Fajardo fiercely criticized the administration of Alvaro Uribe for corruption and how it had dealt with extrajudicial executions by members of the military.
Sanin and Santos took a more defensive approach and defended Uribe’s policies. Sanin said she preferred to “look forward,” while Santos stressed the government’s achievements.
The debate was the first “Big Debate” and will be followed by other (televized) debates.