Elections in Colombia 2018: President Santos, candidates vote in historic election

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El Presidente Juan Manuel Santos en compañía de su familia, in el momento de depositar la papeleta en las elecciones presidenciales de este domingo.

President Juan Manuel Santos voted Sunday morning for his successor and first head of state to rule post-conflict Colombia. Accompanied by his wife María Clemencia Rodríguez, his son Martín and his daughter María Antonia, President Santos voted on the grounds of the country’s Capitol.

As he completes his second term as president, the 2016 Nobel Peace Prize laureate invited millions of Colombians who began voting at the opening of polling stations at 8 a.m. “to participate massively, joyfully and peacefully ”. Santos assured voters that the five candidates presented “their proposals, their ideas for Colombia in order to keep moving forward, to progress, to build peace”.

At dawn, long lines began to form in front of the country’s largest voting center, Corferias, and to measure citizen participation in a crucial election in which the future of the peace process in Colombia is in play.

The candidate of the right-wing Centro Democrático party, Iván Duque, who has retained the lead in voting intentions since the start of the campaign in mid-March, voted at 9 a.m. at the National Pedagogical Institute of Bogotá surrounded by supporters and accompanied by his three children.

Seen as the political protege of two-term president Álvaro Uribe Vélez, Duque pledged to make changes to the peace agreement. The 41-year-old Bogota-born economist received overwhelming approval on March 11 with the Great Consultation for Colombia.

Duque maintains a 10-point lead over socialist candidate Gustavo Petro de Colombia Humana, according to the latest poll by Yanhass. Petro called on citizens via Twitter to “be free and change Colombia’s history for good”. The 58-year-old former mayor of Bogotá and politician voted at 10 a.m. in the school in the Marco Antonio Carreño district in southern Bogotá, accompanied by his wife Verónica Alcocer and daughter Antonella. Before casting the ballot in the ballot box, Petro revealed to the media his vote, with his face, and that of his vice-presidential formula, Angela María Robledo, clearly visible.

Another candidate who voted in the south of the Colombian capital is Germán Vargas Lleras of the Better Lleras movement. Vargás Lleras is a seasoned politician who served in various government positions, including the vice-presidency for much of Santos’ second term. Vargas Lleras comes from one of the most important families in Colombia, his mother is the daughter of the former conservative president Carlos Lleras Restrepo who ruled between 1966 and 1970. After visiting the Ciudad Jardín polling station, Vargas Lleras tweeted: second round. “

If none of the five candidates exceeds the threshold of 50% plus a Sunday, a second round will take place on Sunday, June 17. The elected president will take office on August 7.

Former mayor of Medellín, Colombia’s second city and former governor of the Antioquia department, Sergio Fajardo voted just after polling stations opened in his hometown. Fajardo is the independent candidate of the Compromiso Ciudadano coalition. The 61-year-old mathematician was responsible during his tenure as mayor for the implementation of large-scale educational and social programs. Fajardo will be in Bogotá to receive the results of these elections once the polling stations close at 4 p.m. and the National Register will start publishing its official ballots.

Former Colombian chief peace negotiator and experienced statesman Humberto de la Calle voted in the town of Usaquén in Bogotá, accompanied by his vice-presidential formula, Clara López.

De la Calle spent four years negotiating the peace deal with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) guerrillas in Havana, which ended more than half a century of conflict. The final agreement was ratified in November 2016. As a strong supporter of the peace process in Colombia, De La Calle enjoys wide support from centrist voters, as well as the younger generation who have never lived in a country at peace. “I will continue to work for reconciliation,” De la Calle said on Sunday.

As early as 11 am, the National Police announced that the electoral process across the country was taking place in an atmosphere of peace and tranquility.

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