BOGOTA (Reuters) – Colombians will go to the polls on Sunday to elect members of congress and compete in one of three presidential primaries for candidates from right-wing, left-wing and centrist coalitions.
Seats in the country’s legislature, which has 108 senators and 187 lower house representatives, were won in recent elections by a myriad of parties, forcing presidents to form big tentpole coalitions in order to pass legislation.
Voters taking part in the right-wing coalition’s primary – ahead of a presidential first round in May – will choose between five pre-candidates, including Federico Gutierrez, Alex Char and Enrique Penalosa, former mayors of Medellin, Barranquilla and Bogota, respectively. .
A left-leaning coalition will also ask its supporters to choose from five candidates, although polls suggest Gustavo Petro – a former mayor of Bogota who lost to current President Ivan Duque in the 2018 presidential election – will emerge victorious .
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Mathematician Sergio Fajardo, also a former mayor and governor, is the favorite to win the nomination from a centrist coalition.
Duque’s right-wing Democratic Center party has already chosen Oscar Ivan Zuluaga as its presidential candidate.
The inhabitants of 167 municipalities in provinces such as Arauca, Choco, Norte de Santander and Cauca, the most affected by the conflict, will choose 16 survivor representatives.
Their seats – in place for two legislative terms – were agreed as part of a 2016 peace accord between the government and the now demobilized FARC guerrillas.
The Colombian conflict left some 260,000 dead and millions displaced.
Authorities in the Andean country have promised to keep voters safe and protect election technology from cyberattacks.
(Reporting by Luis Jaime Acosta; Writing by Oliver Griffin; Editing by Aurora Ellis)
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