Who’s Who: Presidential Elections 2014

By bogotapost May 16, 2014

As the 2014 presidential elections come ever closer, Marion Sharples takes a look at each of the five candidates and their electoral promises.



Candidate Juan Manuel Santos Clara López Óscar Iván Zuluaga
Alliance/Party National Unity (coalition made up of U Party, Colombian Liberal Party, Radical Change) Alternative Democratic Pole/Patriotic Union Democratic Centre
Running mate German Vargas Lleras ‘For a country the size of our dreams’
‘Por un país del tamaño de nuestros sueños’
Carlos Holmes Trujillo
Slogan ‘We have done a lot; there remains a lot to be done’
‘Hemos hecho mucho; falta mucho por hacer’
‘For a country the size of our dreams’
‘Por un país del tamaño de nuestros sueños’
‘For a different Colombia’
‘Por una Colombia distinta’
Background Current president. A former ally of ex-president Álvaro Uribe Vélez; Santos and Uribe are now political rivals.
An economist and journalist by trade, he is seeking re-election. In 2012 his administration announced historical peace talks between the government and FARC.
An economist, lawyer, writer and journalist, López has served as Economic Secretary to the Presidency, President of the District Council of Bogotá, and mayor of Bogotá for a period in 2011.  She was the vice-presidential candidate for the Alternative Democratic Pole in 2010. Zuluaga is an economist and businessman who served as Minister of Finance and Public Credit under Álvaro Uribe’s government, and was previously a Senator, and mayor of his hometown, Pensilvania, in the department of Caldas.
Central campaign point(s) The main thread of Santos’ re-election campaign is the promise to secure ‘total peace’ in Colombia by means of the peace talks his current administration began two years ago. López’s campaign focuses on peace, democracy, social justice and national sovereignty. If elected, López promises to appoint a cabinet made up of 50% women. Zuluaga’s election campaign is heavily based on the principles of ‘Uribism’, a political trend named after former president Álvaro Uribe
Key policies:
Control price of medications and include expensive prescriptions within insurance programmes.
Guarantee health coverage for everyone, whether state or private, with the same benefits and service.
Declare healthcare as a fundamental right.
Propose complete overhaul to current health system: put healthcare back under state control and abolish the private insurance system.
Create a national healthcare card.
Ensure quality health services and offer economic support to elderly people living in extreme poverty.
Key policies: Employment Introduce a minimum wage which would remain constant in line with inflation.
Increase the number of programmes offered by the National Service of Learning (SENA), a state-funded institution which provides vocational training.
Encourage Colombians to work abroad.
Aim for full employment.
Stimulate industry to create new jobs.
Create a programme where companies ‘adopt’ students from state-funded schools and give them stable,well-paid jobs upon graduation.
Commit to improving manufacture and export of Colombian products.
Reject free trade agreement with China, instead improving the current agreements which Colombia has with other countries.
Create an  Entrepreneurship Embassy in Silicon Valley in order to attract venture capital investors.
Key policies:  
Focus on improving quality of teaching,  particularly among pre-school and early years teachers, and improve their salaries.
Commit more resources to guarantee access to education for 2.5 million children from the most vulnerable sectors of society.
Guarantee free education at all state-funded institutions and at all levels.
Allocate more funds in order to improve teachers’ working conditions and increase the amount of quality technology available in public schools and universities.
Introduce a universal school day of 8am-4pm across state-funded schools, including two meals a day for all students.
Guarantee all secondary school students access to university or a vocational training programme.
Provide free university education to students in the three lowest socio-economic levels.
Key policies:  
Guarantee protection to ecosystems which are also valuable to the energy sector.
Advocate sustainable use of natural resources.
Create a new legal body to control state intervention in environmental issues in order to conserve natural resources.
Include environmental considerations across all her policies.
Propose  environmentally conscious changes to mining policies.
Introduce protection mechanisms for rivers and forests.
Key policies:  
Continue FARC peace talks.
Focus on combating urban crimes such as robbery and murder.
Increase police presence in high-risk urban areas, encourage citizens to report crimes, review policies for specific crimes such as mobile phone theft.
Continue with peace talks until successful conclusion is reached.
Focus on the creation of a post-conflict society, in which social reforms to sustain peace would be implemented.
One such social reform would be to create an emergency humanitarian plan to support regions most affected by armed conflict.
Implement system of ‘democratic security’, where peace is achieved through a higher presence of soldiers and arms (Uribe’s peace strategy in 2002-10).
Give police officers and soldiers a salary increase as well as accommodation and health services.
Suspend current peace talks and declare they can only continue if guerrilla fighters agree to cease all activities relating to drug trafficking and terrorism.
Weaknesses Will be judged on his presidency. The two main issues are the peace talks and agricultural strikes.
Santos has not yet been able to conclude peace talks and there are some who disagree with the talks altogether.
After strikes last August, a second round of agricultural strikes suggests disenchantment with Santos’ government and makes the President look weak.
Lopez’ biggest problems are the drift of her party towards the centre and her own ethics being called into question by her close relation with Samuel Moreno, former mayor of Bogotá (2008-2010) who was sacked for  corruption, after which she was designated mayor. Zuluaga is  growing in popularity, and is widely seen as just behind Santos in the race, but his biggest weakness remains his  public perception, or lack of: according to a recent Semana survey, 47% of people don’t know who he is -and many more see him as Uribe’s puppet


Candidate Marta Lucía Ramírez Enrique Peñalosa
Alliance/Party Colombian Conservative Party Green Alliance (Green Party, Progressives Movement)
Running mate Camilo Gómez Isabel Segovia
Slogan ‘A different government; a country for the people’
‘Por un gobierno diferente; un país por la gente’
‘With Peñalosa, we can’
‘Con Peñalosa, podemos’
Background Ramírez is a lawyer, who has previously been Minister of International Trade, Defence Minister, Ambassador to France and Senator for the U Party. Peñalosa studied economics, history, and public administration. He was the mayor of Bogotá 1998-2001, during which time he introduced the TransMilenio system. He was also previously President of the Colombian Institute of Credit and Finance and Vice-President of Bogotá’s Water and Sewage Agency.
Central campaign point(s) Ramírez’s campaign is based around fighting corruption, cheap politics and impunity. She seeks to establish institutional rigour within the state. Peñalosa’s campaign is based on the principle of inclusion, which includes the creation of a system of ‘civic security’ and education and healthcare reform.
Key policies:
Create a single Obligatory Health Plan for all and advocate for medication to be directly imported, thereby reducing costs.
Increase vigilance of the system to ensure supplies are not siphoned off.
Increase the salaries of medical professionals.
Reform to the health system which would see general insurance providers take over the role of the current health insurance providers (EPS).
Strengthen illness prevention programmes, increase the number of medical specialists and build hospitals in small cities.
Key policies: Employment Create 800,000 new companies, each of which would be obligated to provide at least five formal jobs.
Promote industries which offer digital, technological and cultural services.
Encourage women and young people to become businesspeople.
Stimulate employment by reducing the taxes companies are obliged to pay on each employee hired.
Subsidise small and medium sized businesses which are focused on exports in order to create jobs.
Key policies:
Use education as a tool for business entrepreneurship and encourage every student to become a businessperson.
Propose a stricter selection process for teachers of public institutions
Propose bilingualism as a legal requirement.
Advocate free education for children from the lowest two socio-economic levels, and free university education for those who perform military service
Provide teachers and lecturers with more training and higher salaries.
Increase access to both vocational and academic higher education.
Pay special attention to education in areas affected by violence, where access to learning is limited and poverty rates high.
Key policies:
Guarantee sustainable mining which minimises environmental damage.
Create a commission of experts in order to establish policies to tackle climate change.
Create sustainable cities with eco-friendly forms of transport.
Introduce programmes to preserve rainforests,plains,forests and water sources.
Establish a plan for sustainable tourism.
Key policies:
Implement same proposals as Zuluaga for ‘democratic security.’
Go back to system of military service where young men serve in their local area.
Introduce life sentences for rapists and perpetrators of acid attacks
Create the ‘Gendarmerie’, a civic military police service.
Propose crime prevention methods such as sports, education, employment and cultural activities for young people, and ensure that public places are better lit and have more CCTV.
Introduce harsher punishments for reoffenders, build more prisons and improve the current ones.
Weaknesses Ramirez came into the race four months late, due to a lawsuit within her own party. Her biggest weakness  is lack of time and it shows in the surveys: she is currently fourth. Peñalosa is  a former mayor and so like Santos, will be especially judged on his past works. During his time as mayor, he took controversial decisions such as  building cement bollards throughout the city and coming down hard on  street vendors
The Transmilenio was his biggest achievement,  but is now in crisis.