Colombia: New Poll Suggests Center-Right Center-Left Matchup in 2018 Presidential Elections

After 8 years of Alvaro Uribe and 8 years of Juan Manuel Santos, Colombians will elect a new president in five months. The highly crowded field includes many familiar faces, and a few newcomers, and it is widely expected to go to a second round election, in the likely eventuality that no candidate receives a majority of the votes in the first round.

Former Medellin mayor Sergio Fajardo leads in Invamer’s most recent comprehensive poll. He has assembled a center-left coalition, and counts on the support of key senators Claudia Lopez and Jorge Robledo. Fajardo fares well across geographic regions and socio-economic divisions.

The poll contained bad news for former vice president German Vargas Lleras, who has widely been considered the front-runner. He has slipped in every poll taken by Invamer this year, falling to third place in the current poll behind former Bogota mayor Gustavo Petro.

What does not bode well for Vargas: the high net unfavorability of current president Santos, who is viewed negatively by 64% of Colombians, and positively by just 30%.

On the other end of the political spectrum, senator Ivan Duque won the nomination of Alvaro Uribe’s Centro Democratico party this weekend, and will now face off against former Defense Minister Marta Lucia Ramirez to lead a center-right coalition for the 2018 election.

Duque is a newcomer to the political scene, and by far the youngest contender at 41 years old. Ramirez is a familiar figure on the national political scene, who has decades of experience in government, and ran a solid presidential campaign in 2014, coming in third, with just under 2 million votes.

Also figuring into the survey was Liberal Party candidate Humberto de la Calle, who represented the government in its landmark peace negotiations with the FARC. He place a respectable fourth, behind Vargas Lleras and ahead of Ramirez.

The best news for Fajardo is his polling levels in hypothetical second round matchups, in which he would best every other major candidate, across the political spectrum.

However, with the combined power of Ramirez as an independent Conservative, and Duque and the Centro Democratico, they are certain to be a force to be reckoned with, and are likely to reach a second round election in June.

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