Colombians decided Sunday to give President Juan Manuel Santos four more years to clench his signature project — a peace deal with the nation’s guerrillas that might end a half century of civil conflict. With 99 percent of the vote counted, Santos had won 51 percent versus 45 percent for former Finance Minister Oscar Iván Zuluaga. Months of whiplash polls and bitter recriminations boiled down to a difference of about 900,000 ballots in a race that was largely seen as a referendum on ongoing peace talks with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) in Havana. After he plowed through a crowd of supporters and white-clad children waving cutouts of doves, Santos said he was determined to clench a peace deal.
Colombia: 11,000 polls ready, overseas voting under way in Colombia’s presidential election | Colombia Reports
Colombia’s National Registrar has confirmed that all the necessary preparations have been made for the country’s second-round elections this Sunday. According to the Registrar, more than 32 million Colombians are eligible to vote in Colombia’s June 15 elections, both domestically and abroad. Early voting for the nearly 600,000 Colombian citizens living abroad started on Monday, with polling stations located in 64 different countries. Nearly 11,000 polling stations will be open in the country on election day. According to Radio W, the National Registrar has installed thousands of biometric identification tools throughout the country to combat voter impersonation fraud. Nearly half a million Colombian citizens will also be working as jurors to ensure that the elections run as smoothly as possible.
Óscar Iván Zuluaga’s name was on the ballot, but it was his political mentor and the former president, Álvaro Uribe (pictured right), who pulled in the votes. A finance minister under Mr Uribe, Mr Zuluaga (pictured left) scored 29% in the first round of Colombia’s presidential election on May 25th, beating Juan Manuel Santos, the current president, by four percentage points. The two men will now face each other in a run-off on June 15th. With his direct, folksy manner, Mr Uribe has dominated Colombian politics since he first won the presidency in 2002. After changing the constitution to allow his re-election, he won again in 2006. Barred from a third term, he backed Mr Santos, his former defence minister, in 2010, expecting his successor to continue his tough security policies, particularly against the FARC guerrillas.
Former Colombian president Alvaro Uribe’s party charged Wednesday that its showing in Sunday’s legislative elections was affected by what it said were serious irregularities in the vote count. Uribe’s opposition Democratic Center party said it had evidence that 250,000 votes in its favor were not counted, “which would substantially change the election results and the composition of the Congress.”
Colombia’s President Juan Manuel Santos on Monday named German Vargas Lleras as his vice presidential running mate, a popular choice that will likely boost his chances of winning a second straight term in office later this year. Vargas Lleras, a former Santos cabinet minister and senator, will campaign for election in May and promise to help bolster economic growth and steer peace talks with Marxist FARC rebels to end Colombia’s half-century war. Santos is the front-runner by far to win the election in a second round of voting in June, but having the popular Vargas Lleras as running mate raises his chances of clinching a first-round win.