Enrique Peñalosa

A new poll indicates that what has been a consistent lead for Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos heading into May’s presidential elections may not be as solid as previously believed. 

Santos would would lose a second-ballot vote to Enrique Peñalosa, the former mayor of Bogota and recently named Green Alliance (Alianza Verde) candidate for president, according to the new poll.

Peñalosa’s candidacy was not officially decided until March 9′s congressional elections, when the Green Alliance held its nationwide primary. Even prior to the announcement, however, the former mayor had been leading other challengers in national polling.

Carried out by the El Tiempo newspaper, the latest inquiry shows Santos would receive 25.5% and Peñalosa 17.1% on a first ballot election.

With Colombian law requiring a candidate to receive an absolute majority of the vote in order to win presidential election on a first ballot, voters would then return to voting booths in June for a runoff election between the two frontrunners.

In this second-ballot election, in which a simple majority is enough to win, 40.4% said they would vote for Peñalosa, with only 37.1% expressing their support for Santos, a difference beyond the 3.1% margin of error reported for the poll.

Going Green

In the second round, 40.4% of respondents said they would vote for Peñalosa and 37.1% would do the same for Santos.

Peñalosa, an academic and former mayor of Bogota, previously ran under the Liberal Party, but will be leading the ticket for the Green Alliance, the party with which he has maintained ties since his previous presidential campaign in 2010.

After having lost elections for Senate, president and for re-election as mayor, Peñalosa said, “In the past four elections in which I have participated I have lost. I show my scars from those losses, so I prefer to wait without triumph.”

 MORE: Colombia’s Green Alliance names presidential candidate

Oscar Ivan Zuluaga, a former finance minister who is running for former President Alvaro Uribe’s Democratic Centre party has seen an apparent boost from the party’s victory in over 20 congressional seats during last week’s elections.

He is now standing at 14.6% in the first round, an increase of 8.3 percentage points from the last poll.

The new leftist alliance announced on Thursday between Clara Lopez of the Democratic Pole and Aida Avella of the Patriotic Union has seen Clara Lopez poll with 10.7% in the first round.

MORE: Colombia’s leftist parties ‘to join forces’ in uphill presidential election


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