Santos Re-Election Still Most Likely Scenario Despite Peñalosa Threat

BMI View: While the last-minute candidacy of popular former Bogota Mayor Enrique Peñalosa poses a plausible challenge to President Juan Manuel Santos's re-election bid, we believe that lack of unity in the opposition makes a second term by Santos the most likely outcome of Colombia's May 25 election. The expected Santos victory would be well received by markets, ensuring continuity of both business-friendly policies and peace negotiations with left-wing insurgents.

We maintain our view that the most likely scenario for Colombia's May 25 presidential election is a second round victory by incumbent President Juan Manuel Santos ( see 'Santos To Win Re-Election But Security Concerns To Remain High', March 8). The two main challengers to Santos's re-election bid are Óscar Iván Zuluaga from the newly-formed Centro Democrático (CD) coalition, and late-comer candidate former Bogota Mayor Enrique Peñalosa from the Partido Verde (PV), who officially announced his candidacy in early March, and immediately received strong support across several segments of society. That said, most polls are consistent in showing that Santos would garner the most votes, though below the 50% needed to avoid a run-off. However, polls on the outcome of the two most likely second round scenarios, namely, Santos versus Zuluaga and Santos versus Peñalosa, also suggest Santos would win in both cases. While voting intentions could shift in the run-up to the election as campaigning intensifies, especially given the high number of undecided voters, which according to polls is around 20% of the electorate, we believe that the lack of unity among the different opposition factions makes it unlikely that Santos would lose in a hypothetical second round.

Fragmented Opposition Makes A Unified Second Round Challenge Against Santos Unlikely

Santos Still Favoured, But First Round Victory Unlikely
Colombia - Results To Poll: If the election were tomorrow, who would you vote for?, %

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Related sectors of this article: Political Risk, Domestic Politics
Geography: Colombia

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