There were five candidates competing in Colombia’s May 27 presidential election, but peace was the main question on the ballot. In late 2016, the Colombian government signed a controversial accord with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, a guerrilla group. Election season closely followed the peace deal – an incredibly divisive issue that was defeated at referendum just over a month before Congress approved it – turning it into a polarizing campaign issue. Implementation of the ambitious agreements with the FARC remains a work in progress. Colombia is also currently negotiating another peace process, with the National Liberation Army guerrilla group. The next president must decide whether to keep to this path or take a different route.
None of the five candidates received over 50 percent of the vote on May 27, so the top two candidates – conservative Iván Duque and the leftist former Bogota Mayor Gustavo Petro – will face off in a June 17 runoff. Their visions for the country’s future could hardly be more different.
This is not the first time peace has been on the ballot in Colombia.
The FARC’s violent 52-year campaign against the government constituted the longest-running conflict in the Western Hemisphere. According to our research on Colombia’s violence, different plans for quelling it have featured prominently in every Colombian election since 1998.