Published: Tue, March 13, 2018
People | By Neil Grant

Colombia's Farc fails to win single seat in congressional elections

Gustavo Petro, a former Bogota mayor who is seeking to become conservative Colombia's first leftist president, will oppose him after winning almost two million votes, 85 per cent of the poll, in his primary.

Right-wing parties opposed to a peace deal with leftist FARC former rebels were leading Colombia's legislative elections but falling short of a majority in Congress, partial results showed this morning.

A significant lead in votes for Colombian right-wing candidate Ivan Duque over leftist Gustavo Petro in presidential primaries pushed the peso up against the dollar on Monday as investors bet Duque would be more business friendly that the former guerrilla candidate.

Opinion polls predict a triumph for ex-president and senator Alvaro Uribe and his Centro Democratico party, along with other parties opposed to the peace agreement that has polarized the South American country.

"There's now sure to be at the presidential level a shake out of candidates over the coming weeks as we approach the first round - Petro can't yet be completely discounted but he looks further from his goal today compared with Friday", said Rupert Stebbings, managing director of equities at Grupo Bancolombia.

But in Sunday's legislative elections, Petro's Decencia won just 1.7 percent of the vote in the lower house and 3.4 percent in the Senate. The group is guaranteed 10 seats in the body through 2026 under the terms of the peace deal. His Party of National Unity, which was the biggest political movement in the outgoing congress, finishes fifth overall.

While all candidates advocate clamping down on corruption and investment in education and health, the two top pollers differ in their views on a peace deal with Marxist FARC rebels. They will also not be represented in the Presidential race in May as their candidate, former guerrilla commander Rodrigo "Timochenko" Londono stopped campaigning to recover from heart surgery.

While alliances are formed in the next two months, candidates will need to gather more support for their campaigns. He won 2.8 million votes in his primary on Sunday.

"Our results were very positive" Petro told his followers after results were published.

Voters who are critical of the peace deal will be able to choose between Duque and German Vargas Lleras, the conservative leader of the Radical Change party.

Duque has said he would not "thrash" the peace accord with the FARC, but he would attempt to modify certain aspects, like a provision that allows the former rebels with drug-trafficking convictions to participate in politics.

On the right, Ivan Duque, closely associated with ex-president Uribe, won through with 67.72 percent of the vote and named Martha Lucia Martinez as his running mate, the first woman appointed to that post in Colombian history.

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