With the first round results having been published, the two competitors for the presidency of Colombia seek to gain further votes through justifying their positions upon the FARC situation

BOGOTA – After a series of scandals before the  presidential elections, Colombian voters went to the polls on May 25 to vote for their next President. After a disputed vote count, Óscar Iván Zuluaga, leader of the right wing Democratic Centre party, received 29.26% of the votes, while the current president of Colombia, Juan Manuel Santos, came in second place with 25.68%. Since none of the candidates achieved at least 50% of the votes, there will be a second round between the two most voted, which will take place on June 15.

While the other parties decide which candidate they will support, the debate regarding  the best solution for the FARC’s situation in Colombia continues to polarise the disputes between the two main competitors for the presidency. Juan Manuel Santos made a statement after the first round results were shared with the public: “Colombians will have two options, between those who prefer an end to the war and those who want a war without end.”

On the other hand, Óscar Zuluaga strengthened his position in the official discourse after the announcement of the poll results through his statement: “If you trust in me, you can be sure that I will be the President of 47 million Colombians […] We cannot let the FARC command the country from La Habana. The President cannot and must not be manipulated by the FARC, the main drug cartel of Colombia.”

Juan Manuel Santos has numbers in his favour. During the last four years, Colombia had experienced a low unemployment rate, an approximate GDP growth of 5% per year and a significant increase in foreign investment, but this political situation concerning the FARC is proving to be the bane of President Santos, while being the first banner and main political weapon of Mr. Zuluaga against the current president.

Zuluga took to his personal twitter account this  Wednesday after winning the first round of voting, stating, “We believe in a just and lasting peace with conditions that benefit the people  and not the FARC […] of course we will negotiate, but under conditions of respect for life and the tranquility of Colombians.”

The number of blank and null votes were well below expected levels, which illustrates that Colombians are now more motivated to actively influence the future of their country. In fact, this surge in public political activity will be the best way to deal with the FARC issue since it will assert the democratic decision of the Colombian people.

— Caio Prado, Correspondent (South America)

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Image Courtesy: Coronades03, Released into the public domain | Wikimedia Commons