The Rise of the Colombian Left
Carlos Gaviria aka 'Papa Noel' = Santa Claus. The academic and former head of Colombia's highest court has leapfrogged past Liberal Party candidate Horacio Serpa to move into second place. Since March, polls show that support for Gaviria has tripled to 24 percent.
From the Comombia Review
by Garry Leech
Given the continued popularity of Colombia’s right-wing President Alvaro Uribe, many analysts have viewed Colombia as the exception to South America’s shift to the Left. While it is true that Uribe will likely be re-elected on May 28—although it no longer appears guaranteed that he will win outright in the first round of voting—his nearest competitor is no longer a candidate from one of Colombia’s traditional political parties. Instead, the center-left Democratic Pole’s candidate Carlos Gaviria is running second in three recent polls. This unprecedented support for a leftist Colombian presidential candidate follows on the heels of the Democratic Pole’s successes in March’s congressional elections. The recent rise of the electoral Left in Colombia has primarily come at the expense of the centrist Liberal party as the country has become increasingly polarized between Right and Left.
Despite being linked to several ongoing political scandals, Uribe’s Teflon coating still appears to be intact. A recent survey by pollster Napoleon Franco shows that 57 percent of Colombians intend to vote for Uribe on May 28. While this is still an impressive figure, it is significantly lower than the 70 percent who supported the president a year ago. The slip in support for Uribe has benefited the Left as Gaviria has seen his poll numbers increase to just shy of 20 percent over the past few months. If this trend continues, there exists the remote possibility that Uribe will fall short of the majority he needs for a first-round victory and that Colombia’s presidential election will enter a second round with candidates on the Right and Left facing off for the first time in the country’s history.