May Colombians like the current president

Presidential election in Colombia

April 8, 2017, 9:58 pm

Guerrillas for peace talks after the elections

A few weeks before the presidential elections in Colombia, fighters from the FARC guerrilla group released a hip hop song. "Colombian people, come to the negotiating table," says the text. The guerrilla wants to create a mood for a continuation of the peace talks after the elections. And thus indirectly supports the re-election of the current incumbent Juan Manuel Santos. Just in time for the elections, Santos was able to announce another partial success in the peace talks with the FARC guerrillas: namely, on the sensitive issue of drug cultivation. The cocaine stronghold of Colombia should become drug-free, and the guerrillas also want to withdraw from drug trafficking in the future. Last year the government and the guerrillas were able to agree on two points: land reform and future political participation of the FARC. Still-President Santos wants to bring about a full peace agreement in the course of the year and finally end the civil war after exactly 50 years, as he announced in a televised address.

There is deep distrust of the guerrillas

But not everyone in the country shares this optimism. The population is divided. The peace talks have dragged on for years and there is deep distrust of the guerrillas. This benefits the right-wing conservative candidate Óscar Iván Zuluaga. His polls have been rising for weeks, he is head to head with incumbent Santos. If Zuluaga wins, the peace talks in Colombia could come to an abrupt end. He considers it unacceptable that the Santos government should sit down at the same table as the "world's largest drug cartel", as he calls the guerrillas. Zuluaga is confidante of the right-wing ex-president Álvaro Uribe. During his eight-year term in office, he had tried in vain to wipe out the guerrillas by means of a military offensive.

Scandal lowers Zuluaga's chances of winning

However, a current scandal is dampening Zuluaga's chances of winning: A video recently surfaced in which the right-wing conservative candidate speaks to a hacker about the illegal acquisition of intelligence information. The aim should obviously be to sabotage the negotiations between the guerrillas and the government. Zuluaga himself speaks of counterfeiting. Presumably none of the total of five candidates should achieve an absolute majority in the first round. A possible runoff election in Colombia is scheduled for June 15.