Friday, June 6, 2014

Santos' Crazy Campaign Coalition

There's the ex-guerrilla whom Santos ousted from City Hall (and then put back in).

There's the eccentric politician whom Santos trounced in the 2010 presidential run-off.

And there's the leader of the far-left political party who were fierce opponents of Santos' anti-guerrilla war.

'Just for peace.' Gustavo Petro urges a vote for Santos.
Those are the unlikely leaders of the leftist political coalition campaigning for four more years for Pres. Santos. You can be sure that none of them are true-blue Santistas. Rather, they're pulling for Santos because they dread even more a far-right, warmongering Zuluaga presidency.

Bogotá Mayor Gustavo Petro certainly didn't imagine himself endorsing the president for reelection a few months ago when Santos was signing papers removing Petro from office.

Green Party leader Antanas Mockus didn't likely see himself campaigning for Santos and peace four years ago when Santos whalloped him in the second round presidential election by vowing to destroy the guerrillas militarily.

And I'm sure that Polo Democratico candidate Clara Lopez would have called a liar anybody who suggested that one day she would campaign for Santos, who was minister of defense under militaristic president Alvaro Uribe.

None of those political leaders likely support other Santos administration policies, such as his endorsement of large scale mining as a 'locomotive' of Colombia's economy.

The Polo Democratico's Clara Lopez says she
wants peace and more Pres. Santos.
For Santos, the leftists' embrace creates a delicate political dance. Santos can't realistically hope to get more than 50% of the vote without a big part of the Polo Democratico's 15% first round vote and the Partido Verde's 8%, as well as some of the leftists who abstained in the first round. But Santos also needs badly a significant slice of the center-right Conservative Party vote. Can the president conceivably appeal to such a disparate range of voters?

The latest poll, which showed Santos a few percentage points ahead of Zuluaga, suggests that Santos' coalition strategy is working.

But if Santos wins reelection, what will this far-left support mean for his policies?

Perhaps there's a clue in Polo Democratico candidate Clara Lopez's commercial for Santos. Lopez
'With Santos peace is serious,'
says Green Party leader Antanas Mockus 
focuses on 'peace', but also talks about 'free education at all levels.' In a second term, would Santos feel obliged to repay her support by offering free college education to everybody - even the rich?

But the three new Santos allies' main focus is on peace. The Colombian government and FARC guerrillas are holding peace negotiations in Havana, Cuba. Those talks have advanced farther than had any previous government negotiations with Colombia's largest guerrilla group. But many Colombians believe that a Zuluaga victory would doom the talks, altho Zuluaga recently has claimed that he'd give the negotiations a chance, albeit under stricter conditions for the guerrillas. But Zuluaga's political mentor, ex-Pres. Alvaro Uribe, has been a harsh critic of the peace talks.

If Santos wins thanks to the support of the pro-peace coalition, will Santos feel obliged to sign a peace deal at all costs? That would seriously weaken the government's hand in the talks.

By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours

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