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Electoral panorama in Colombia

On March 11, legislative elections were held in Colombia and two consultations were held for the selection of presidential candidates: that of the Democratic Center and the “Consulta de los Izquierdas”. The results constitute an important element of analysis with respect to what may happen in the presidential elections of May 27, given that the participation reached almost 18 million votes, a historic maximum in legislative elections and 4.3% above the past elections to Congress.

The most voted party was the Democratic Center , the party of former President Álvaro Uribe, who despite increasing the number of representatives to the House also lost a seat in the Senate. At the same time he reached almost six million votes among all the candidates of his internal consultation, in which Iván Duquewas chosen as his presidential candidate. These results, that of Uribe as the most voted senator in the country, and those achieved by presidential candidates related to the former president in the past indicate that the Democratic Center and Uribe consolidate a very high number of fixed voters in the Colombian political system, something that can be estimated close to 30% of active voters, critical of the management of President Juan Manuel Santos and of the peace process with the FARC.

In the same right of the political spectrum is the former vice-president Germán Vargas Lleras and his Cambio Radical party , second in voting and that raised the number of their senators and representatives to the Chamber in 16 and 30, respectively. Having been close to the first government of Uribe, Vargas Lleras chose to move away from this in his second government. Then he was vice president during part of the two governments of Santos, while Uribe exercised opposition. Around a year ago, Vargas Lleras began to move away from Santos, criticizing the agreements with the guerrilla group, hoping to capture the dissenting vote with the peace process.

Today, Vargas Lleras and Cambio Radical dispute with the Democratic Center of Duque and Uribe for the support of the National Unity Party , one of those who supported President Santos during his eight years in office, and who could decide which of the two critical options the peace process is the most voted in the presidential elections. Being the fifth most voted in the March 11 elections, it is mostly made up of electoral barons such as the Name Terán in the Atlantic or Dilian Francisca Toroin Valle del Cauca, and they have no problems with moving from support to the current government to supporting the next one, as long as it maintains the flow of state resources within its political and clientelist networks. In fact, the National Unity Party, then named U, was the original partisan formation of Uribe, but decided at the time to support Santos in his distance from Uribe, given that Santos as president handled resources that former President Uribe did not.

In the center are the Liberal Party , fourth in the legislative elections, and has launched the chief negotiator of the government, Humberto de La Calle , as a presidential candidate. De La Calle joins the Green Allianceof Sergio Fajardo , sixth in the vote on Sunday, as moderate presidential options, away from the incendiary speech of Uribe and the machinery of Vargas Lleras. Both candidates face the challenge of trying to convince a polarized society, located between the denunciation of the castrochavism threat that Uribe and Vargas Lleras make, and the discourse and positions of the last presidential candidate with real options, Gustavo Petro, former mayor of Bogotá.

Petro was elected on Sunday as a candidate for the “Consulta de los Izquierdas”, with two and a half million votes. In spite of the resistances that his figure generates due to his guerrilla past and to his criticized management in the mayor’s office in Bogota, Petro starts in a better position in the polls than De La Calle and Fajardo, which gives him the strongest hand in case of a possible presidential coalition among these options. However, his figure is associated with a type of leadership that moves away from consensual positions, as dictated by his exit from the Polo Democrático Alternativo , the most successful left political experience in the country’s recent history.

Both the right-wing and the center-left blocs are fragmented for the time being, but they have the potential to become real options for winning the presidency, in the event that they achieve the alliances that political proximity dictates. All in all, two more clues can be taken to predict the May result. First, that for some reason the leadership alliances located in the center and the left tend to be more difficult to consolidate in Colombia than those of the right-wing leaders. Second, that the voting result of electoral machinery ends up weighing more than the vote captured in the polls, and this is mainly contained in the Democratic Center, Radical Change and the National Unity Party

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