World Bulletin / News Desk
President Juan Manuel Santos remains the clear favorite to win the Colombian presidential election despite his approval rating falling by 0.5 percent amid agricultural strikes that threaten to spread across the country.
In a poll released Wednesday by Invamer-Gallup, President Santos, of the Social Party of National Unity, leads with 32 percent followed by the candidate for the Center Democratic Party, Oscar Zuluaga, on 20.5 percent. The election is slated for May 25.
While the government searches for a response to the agricultural strikes , which began April 28, to avoid a repeat of the violent demonstrations which spread across Colombia in 2013, it appears that only the Center Democratic, the party affiliated to former president Alvaro Uribe has been able to profit from this unrest.
“Even after six months of campaigning and a series of scandals much more damaging than these protests, Santos’ support hasn't moved a jot,” said Kevin Howlett, Bogota-based analyst and director of Colombia-Politics. “Meanwhile, Uribista Oscar Zuluaga has jumped in recent polls and he has the momentum.”
The strikes are an opportunity for Zuluaga to gain further ground, Howlett said, but for Santos whose base is those who vote along traditional party allegiances, the impact is unlikely to be significant.
According to political analysts at Colombia's La Silla Vacia, Santos' support is already weakest amongst rural voters. In the coutryside, where the strikes are most significant the "voto en blanco" or spoiled vote es salid to be as high as 42.5 percent, according to La Silla Vacia
The agricultural crisis, which is now gripping the country, has become a major issue on the campaign trail, with presidential hopefuls and even the members of the FARC guerrillas, Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, engaged in peace dialogues with the government in Havana, Cuba since 2012, speaking out on the subject.
Land ownership and agricultural reform have long been a cause of disputes in Colombia and are often seen as the cause of the almost five decade long civil conflict. This was the first point tabled and discussed on the agenda for the peace dialogues between the FARC and the government’s negotiating team.
Despite early promise from the former mayor of Bogotá and Green Party nominee, Enrique Peñalosa has fallen back into fifth position with 10.5 percent behind even the voto en blanco or spoiled vote on 15.9 percent and the Conservative Party’s Marta Lucía Ramírez who has 11.2 percent. As it stands the election looks set to go to a second round as none of the candidates appear able to win the required 50 percent of the vote to win outright on May 25.Last Mod: 01 Mayıs 2014, 10:59