BOGOTA: President Juan Manuel Santos and opposition challenger Oscar Ivan Zuluaga scrambled yesterday to win the support of candidates eliminated from Colombia’s presidential election and gain the upper hand ahead of a runoff vote next month.
Zuluaga, a right-wing former finance minister, won most votes in the first round of voting on Sunday after campaigning to roll back Santos’ peace talks with Marxist guerrillas. He now faces Santos in a runoff on June 15.
Both men immediately began seeking alliances and wooing supporters of the three candidates knocked out of the race on Sunday. All three were in consultations with their parties to determine who they will back.
Zuluaga met yesterday with third-placed candidate Marta Lucia Ramirez, who is also sceptical of the peace talks and could throw her support behind him. She won 15.5 percent of the vote on Sunday, and Zuluaga described their meeting as “very positive”.
Clara Lopez and Enrique Penalosa, who came in third and fourth with a combined 23.5 percent of the vote, support negotiations with the FARC and so may be more inclined to side with the president.
Seeking their support, Santos said all three of the losing candidates had made “important proposals” that could be made “reality together” over the next four years.
Zuluaga won 29.3 percent support in the first round, 3.6 percentage points more than Santos.