Colombia: FARC performs poorly in first electoral test

Nellie Chapman
March 13, 2018

The left-wing candidate and former M-19 rebel criticized the National Registry and current President Juan Manuel Santos for not providing the necessary conditions for a free and trustworthy electoral process.

Petro's promise of a "social economy" that would raise taxes and shift away from oil, Colombia's top export, towards agriculture has anxious investors in the Andean nation as opinion polls showed the former member of the disbanded M-19 guerrilla group and ex-mayor of Bogota running ahead of Duque. After his victory, Duque named Ramirez as his running mate.

By contrast, numerous accord's critics picked up seats, with the Democratic Center party led by former President Alvaro Uribe headed to being the biggest bloc in the Senate.

That represented about 30 percent fewer votes than Duque, though the two have been close in presidential vote polls.

Many Colombians will have voted strategically in the primaries, hoping to influence candidate selection for the presidential vote on May 27.

The most recent polls predict a virtual tie between Petro and Duque, with both having about 23 percent of the voting intentions. He has pledged to create a “social economy” that will shift the economy from oil toward agriculture.

Petro won the day's other primary with 2.8 million votes, or 85 percent.

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The deal guaranteed the party five seats in the Senate and five seats in the lower house through 2026, regardless of the number of votes it receives in elections.

With more than 90 percent of the votes counted, right-wing parties received the most seats.

Still known as the FARC, candidates of the the Common Alternative Revolutionary Force aren't expected to make much of an impact at the ballot box, as memories are long and tempers are still short.

The elections mark the debut of the former FARC rebels as a political party. It fielded 74 legislative candidates but got only 0.22 percent of votes for the lower house and just 0.35 percent in the Senate.

It is unclear whether remaining left-wing presidential candidates will want the FARC's backing, though all are staunch supporters of the peace deal.

"Since the bilateral ceasefire ended, there have been too many deaths on both sides, too many wounded, too many victims - this is what we must stop", Santos said in a televised address.

"Avoiding further suffering by communities like that which has been caused by more than 50 years of uninterrupted conflict should be one of the main reasons for the new round of talks", said the OAS Secretary General.

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