The second round of the keenly watched Colombian presidential election gets underway early Sunday. Some 11,230 polls opened at 8:00 a.m. local time across the country to allow voters to cast ballots to select a new leader. Results are expected to be available within hours of the closure of the polls at 4:00 p.m..
Gap Between Colombia’s Presidential Hopefuls Cut to 2.9 Percent
The runoff pits controversial protégé of ex-President Alvaro Uribe, Ivan Duque, against former guerilla and leftist ex-Mayor of Bogota, Gustavo Petro. A new poll shows the latter edging closer to Duque, cutting the candidate’s lead by a large margin.
According to the latest poll by the Latin American Geopolitical Strategic Center (Celag), the gap between Duque and Petro has narrowed significantly to 2.9 percentage points. Duque registered 45.3 percent of voter intention with Petro not far behind at 42.4 percent. One week ago, Petro was 5.5 points behind Duque.
One fundamental difference between the runoff pair reveals that Duque seeks to throw out a current peace deal between the government and former Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) members in favor of a new, less amicable one – which could involve former members of the group being jailed.
Petro, on the other hand, seeks to maintain the agreement as well as phase out coal and oil dependency as well as redistribute property to the underprivileged.
Colombia is having its first elections since the 2016 peace deal was struck with the former FARC. The agreement terminated a five-decades-long conflict between the government and the group.
On Saturday, the National Police said some 120,000 police officers will be dispatched near polling stations.