Will There Be a Center-Right Coalition in Colombia?

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Colombia's center-right coalition has been plagued by divisions and infighting (
Colombia’s center-right coalition has been plagued by divisions and infighting (PanAm Post).

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Four months before the presidential elections in Colombia, the center-right coalition is experiencing strong disagreements on how the alliance should be formed. There are several proposals and meetings that held regarding these questions: the followers of Alvaro Uribe, Andres Pastrana, and Alejandro Ordonez hope to form a viable center-right coalition. However, if that proves to be impossible, there is the possibility that multiple candidate will compete in the first round.

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Uribe – Pastrana

After the meeting in Barranquilla between the presidents Álvaro Uribe and Andrés Pastrana and their respective candidates, the former conservative president sent a letter to Uribe arguing that his work for the “reconstruction” of Colombia had ended, and that from now on it is the responsibility of candidates Marta Lucia Ramírez and Iván Duque to have “the last word.”

“They must quickly define the mechanism to which they will submit themselves. The proposals are on the table and the voters hope that the winning formula that they present will change the course of Colombia,” reads the letter shared by former president Pastrana on his Twitter account.

Meanwhile, former President Uribe has remained neutral, for now. He is seen as a guide for Centro Democratico Ivan Duque, despite concerns by some in the party that Duque could take the same path of President Juan Manuel Santos and eventually disengage from his political boss.

Marta Lucia Ramírez

After presenting her campaign team, presidential candidate Marta Lucia Ramirez once again urged former presidents Uribe and Pastrana to quickly aid in implementing the center-right coalition. Ramírez believes that it is necessary and urgent to define the mechanism, since she affirms that the Colombian left and former Vice President Germán Vargas Lleras are growing stronger electorally.

“The mechanism will hopefully allow us a very fast decision, we can not wait to unify our candidacy, while everyone else is organized: the radical left, the moderate left, the candidacy of the continuity of Vice President Vargas. If we wait until the end there will be very little time left. Before January 20, we won’t know,” said Ramirez.

“I have traveled the country during these four years, we have not stopped, the difference is that we have not done it with a party, accompanying or facilitating us, nor with political leaders propelling us to stardom, we continue touring the country,” said the candidate.

Ramírez announced that her campaign manager will be former minister Fernando Araujo, who was kidnapped by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and kept in captivity for six years. Her general manager will be former vice presidential candidate Camilo Gómez; as political directors she named former minister Carlos Holguín Sardi and former senator Hernando Pedraza; and as director of strategy, she named Juan Camilo Ostos.

Among the different candidates, Marta Lucia Ramírez is the candidate that appears to have the greatest hope for a center-right alliance, and probabilities for a first and second round election. There are very few followers of the other candidates who say they would never vote for her.

Iván Duque

Centro Democratico candidate Iván Duque has sent a letter to Marta Lucia Ramírez and the ex-attorney Alejandro Ordóñez, which insists upon the formation of an “inclusive coalition.” In the document, Duque said that the forces involved in the center-right alliance should not falter, but must focus on working together as a team.

“I want to insist on an inclusive coalition, without dogmatism, pluralistic, but consistent and coherent, open and popular. The aim is to gather visions, join forces, unite leadership, and work together to win the Presidency of the Republic in the first round next May. We can not be found wanting with regard to that historic challenge.”

He added that the three must agree on the terms of a primary election scheduled for this March 11, “that is the mechanism…that will give us the unity to win.”

Alejandro Ordoñez

The ex-prosecutor and former presidential candidate, Alejandro Ordóñez, continues to be in disagreement with former president Pastrana, affirming that the former president has hijacked the coalition. As reported by Caracol Radio, Ordóñez is tired of Pastrana’s involvement in the process.

“That debate has me tired, I must confess, because it involves the tantrums of former President Pastrana, because with the conditions that he puts on me and the Centro Democratico he only seeks to damage the coalition. Hopefully we can save it and not collapse for the good of the country.”

Regarding Duque’s primary proposal, he said he agreed, saying that the three should agree on the fair rules ahead of time. At the same time, he has called for Marta Lucia Ramírez to unite with the coalition. Ramirez has stated that choosing the candidate in March “would be untimely and inconvenient.”

On the other hand, on several occasions he has called on former President Uribe to break his silence and take sides. Duque and Ordóñez, despite both supporting the NO vote in the plebiscite, have opposing positions on many issues.

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