On Sunday, March 11, Colombia celebrated its Congressional elections for the 2018-2022 legislative period. Furthermore, during this election Sunday, the grand center-right coalition held its primary to select a candidate for the upcoming Presidential election to be celebrated in May. Amongst the three candidates participating in the primary, Senator Ivan Duque, of the Democratic Center party and former President Alvaro Uribe’s christened candidate, was chosen to represent the country’s right-wing coalition.
Colombia’s Congressional and Presidential Elections
The big winner of yesterday’s legislative elections was the right-wing Democratic Center party. Barely known a year ago, Ivan Duque is a 41-year-old political figure that has managed to mobilize Colombia’s center-right constituents. Furthermore, the center-right coalition primary had an unexpectedly high participation of more than 6 million voters. Likewise, the Democratic Center party seems to have secured, not a majority, but a plurality of votes and seats in both the Colombian House and Senate. In the Colombian Senate, led by Senator and former President Alvaro Uribe, the Democratic Center is ahead and is expected to hold 19 out of 107 seats. Meanwhile, in Colombia’s House of Representatives, the Democratic Center should hold 32 seats against 35 seats projected for the Liberal Party. This represents a major change because, even though the Democratic Center has been a powerful party in Colombia’s legislature for over a decade, it has spent the last several years as an opposition party and now there is a real possibility that it will become the country’s powerful governing party.
Another major performer during Sunday’s Congressional elections was the centrist Radical Change (CR) party, which is led by former Vice-President and Presidential candidate German Vargas Lleras. Though falling behind in the polls, Vargas Lleras remains one of the top contenders for Colombia’s Presidency alongside Ivan Duque and center-left candidate Sergio Fajardo. The Radical Change (CR) party is expected to hold 30 seats in the Colombian House of Representatives and 16 seats in the Senate.
Lastly, after the recent withdrawal from the presidential race by the former FARC Commander Rodrigo Londoño, Colombia’s left-wing base has found its champion in Bogota’s former mayor Gustavo Petro. However, in spite of some recent polls that have shown some momentum for Petro’s candidacy, the results from Sunday’s election suggest that Colombia is looking for a conservative president. Similarly, in addition to Petro’s controversial and polemic political past, a large degree of animosity is still felt towards the Peace Accords with the FARC and towards the unpopular political concessions of incumbent President Juan Manuel Santos.