Santos To Win Re-Election But Security Concerns To Remain High
BMI View: We believe that Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos will win re-election on May 25, though a first-round victory is highly unlikely. We expect that achieving a peace agreement with the Farc will be at the top of Santos's second term agenda, but do not see a long-lasting peace agreement being reached this year and believe that rising smaller criminal organisations will be an increasing concern for the government and firms operating in the country.
We see favourable results for Colombia's ruling coalition in legislative elections on March 8 and a presidential election on May 25. Regarding the legislative elections, we expect the ruling Partido de la U/Partido Conservador coalition to lose some seats but retain its dominance in both houses (currently it holds 80 of the 102 seats in the senate, and 139 of 165 seats in the house). The main challenge to the ruling coalition will come from the newly-formed Centro Demócratico party, headed by former president Álvaro Uribe, who is running for a seat in the senate and is expected to win. Uribe is a fierce critique of President Juan Manuel Santos, and Uribe's traditionally high level of popularity could successfully sway some current members of the ruling-coalition to shift sides to the Centro Demócratico. That said, Uribe's investment-friendly policies are broadly in line with Santos's positions, meaning that risks to policy continuity are low.
Regarding the presidential election, we expect President Santos to win re-election, though a first-round victory, which requires at least 50.0% of the vote, is highly unlikely. According to a February poll, Santos has 28.0% of voting intentions, up from 26.0% in the same poll in September. Santos's strongest challenger is former minister of finance Óscar Iván Zuluaga from the Centro Democrático, though 8.0% of the respondents would vote for him support according to the February poll. We believe that the lack of enthusiasm among voters, with 23.0% of voters undecided according to the poll, would favour Santos in a second round given that the opposition remains highly divided.
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