AS/COA Online | Strong Showing for Santos in Colombia's First Round

As predicted, Colombia will need to hold a second round of elections to decide who will take over when President Álvaro Uribe steps down in August. But the results from the first round on May 30 were surprising nonetheless: Although polls placed the two top candidates in a dead heat a week before elections, the U Party’s Juan Manuel Santos won more than double the number of votes of his main rival from the Green Party, Antanas Mockus. Santos, who earned 46.6 percent of the vote, came within a few points of winning the requisite simple majority to avoid a runoff. Mockus pulled in 21.5 percent. The results indicate that voters may feel more comfortable with the continuity of Uribe’s security policies represented by Santos, the ex-defense minister, than the change symbolized by Mockus, Bogota’s former mayor. When campaigns closed a week ago, Mockus polled five points ahead of Santos in the case of a second round. He now faces an uphill battle as the two candidates prepare for the June 20 runoff.

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