The chances that Colombia would become the first country to elect a Green chief executive–as numerous polls had said was likely–dimmed dramatically after the outcome of Sunday’s first round.
Juan Manuel Santos of the party most closely affiliated with outgoing incumbent President Alvaro Uribe, came close to an outright win. He scored 46.6%, to a distant 21.5% for Green candidate Antanas Mockus.
Polls in recent weeks had tended to put the two candidates close, in the mid thirties percent range, and generally had Mockus winning the runoff, which will be on 20 June.
However, with that large a lead, there is only the slimmest of chances that Mockus could ultimately win.
I always expected Santos’s support within the “political class,” and the ability of rural leaders to mobilize votes for the more establishment candidate, would pull Santos through. But I had no expectation that he would be so close to 50% in the first round, or so far ahead of Mockus.