A rift between members of the Alternative Democratic Pole formed, as the party divides between those that support Santos’ reelection campaign, and those that prefer abstention, reports Colombian political news source La Silla Vacia.
Key member and Senator of the Alternative Democratic Pole (Polo Democrático Alternativo — PDA) Jorge Enrique Robledo expressed his frustration at the PDA for its endorsement of incumbent President and U Party candidate Juan Manuel Santos through a letter to party leader and ex-Presidential candidate Clara Lopez.
Robledo’s criticism of Lopez’s endorsement
Much of the criticism was directed towards Clara Lopez’s endorsement of Santos through a commercial in which she appears not only endorsing the peace process, but also encouraging a “more human” health system, better employment, putting social policies first, rural development, better education for students, influencing her vote for Santos.
Robledo claimed that the votes for Lopez were for changing various Colombian institutions, including the economic model, the free trade agreements, the protection of domestic agriculture and industry, and a general opposition to what the other candidates were proposing. Despite Robledo’s support for the peace process, he claims that nobody during the first round of campaigns believed that this was ground to endorse Santos.
Robledo claims that Lopez campaigning for Santos goes against what the party stands for, and go against the unity of the party, which he states the President of the party [Clara Lopez] should defend.
The PDA voted against officially endorsing a candidate on 29 May, opting instead to “leave the decision up to voters.” The party recently flip-flopped its official position, with Clara Lopez’s declaration of support for Santos on the front page of the party’s official website.
Robledo’s importance for the party is evident, as he often criticizes government policies, and serves as a vocal leader of the opposition. Robledo also the obtained the most votes for any Senatorial candidate in the country, in the last Parliamentary elections held in March.
Clara Lopez campaigns for Santos
Clara Lopez, who recently joined Juan Manuel Santos, highlighting her support of his policy regarding the ongoing peace process with the FARC, Colombia’s largest guerrilla army, in Havana, Cuba.
“I am going to participate in an active way, traveling around the streets of Bogota and of Colombia bringing the message that it is necessary to end the conflict to advance in democracy. I will visit the Caribbean Nariño, Antioquia, el Valle and the 20 districts of Bogota’, she stated, ‘the vote in these elections is a vote for advancement. Only this vote will guarantee the peace that Colombia needs.”
Left supports Santos
With official declarations by both parties, the leftist parties Patriotic March (Marcha Patriótica) and Patriotic Union (Unión Patriótica – UP) officially endorsed the reelection campaign of Juan Manuel Santos, due to his initiation and continued support of the peace process with the FARC.
Prominent PDA politician, Representative and Senator-elect Ivan Cepeda, as well as UP running-mate for Clara Lopez, Aida Avella have individually thrown their support behind President Santos. Controversial ex-Senator and Patriotic March leader Piedad Cordoba also expressed her support for Santos.
First round of elections
The first round of elections, held on 25 May failed to produce a winner with over 50% of the vote requiring by law a second round, which will be contested between incumbent President and U candidate Juan Manuel Santos, and Democratic Center candidate Oscar Ivan Zuluaga. The PDA candidate, Clara Lopez, received fourth place in the elections with 15.23% of the total vote.
Polls for the second round, slated for 15 June, have shown Santos and Zuluaga neck and neck, making Lopez’s endorsement an important component for the reelection campaign of President Juan Manuel Santos.
- Clara López llama a votar por la paz (PDA Official Website)
- Las cuñas santistas de Clara la llevan hacia un divorcio con Robledo (La Silla Vacía)
- El Polo, como partido, decidió no respaldar a Santos ni a Zuluaga (Letter from Robledo to Lopez)