(Angus Reid Global Monitor) – Two candidates vowing to continue the policies of current Colombian president Álvaro Uribe are the frontrunners in the race to replace him, according to a poll by Datexco released by El Tiempo and W Radio. 34.1 per cent of respondents would vote for former defence minister Juan Manuel Santos of the U Party (U) in the May ballot.

Noemí Sanín of the Conservative Party (PC) is second with 21.7 per cent, followed by Antanas Mockus of the Green Party (PV) with 8.9 per cent, Gustavo Petro of the Democratic Pole (PD) with 7.1 per cent, Germán Vargas Lleras of Radical Change (CR) with with 6.6 per cent, Rafael Pardo of the Liberal Party (PL) with 5.5 per cent, and independent Sergio Fajardo with 4.4 per cent.

Álvaro Uribe has been Colombia’s president since August 2002. In the May 2006 election, he won a new four-year term with 62.2 per cent of all cast ballots. He was able to run again after pro-Uribe lawmakers in the House of Representatives and the Constitutional Court officially sanctioned a plan to allow immediate presidential re-election. After issuing its ruling, the court warned that the clause was not valid for the unlimited re-election of the head of state.

A group of Uribe supporters gathered enough signatures to call a nationwide referendum on whether the current president should be allowed to run for re-election again this year. In September 2009, Congress approved the referendum bill in a late-night vote boycotted by members of the opposition. In February 2010, the Constitutional Court voted 7-2 against the referendum proposal. Uribe said he "accepted" and "respected" the court’s decision.

Immediately after the ruling, Santos confirmed that he would become a presidential candidate for the U Party, which borrows his name from the first letter of the current president’s name.

On Mar. 14, Colombians voted in legislative elections. The U Party garnered the most votes, followed by the pro-Uribe Conservatives and the opposition Liberals.

The PC has supported the Uribe administration since the beginning of his first term. The party did not nominate a candidate to stand against Uribe in the 2006 election. However, this time the PC has Sanín standing against Santos. Both are running on a platform of continuing with Uribe’s policies.

On Apr. 5, Fajardo—who was praised for a good administration as mayor of Medellín, Colombia’s second largest city—officially accepted an offer by Mockus to become his running-mate. Mockus is also renowned for two successful terms as mayor of Bogotá.

Fajardo described his decision to join Mockus as "not an addition, but a multiplication," stating that the formula is "the best proposal in history." Mockus and Fajardo are both mathematicians with a career in academia.

The next presidential election is scheduled for May 30. If no candidate garners more than 50 per cent of the vote, a run-off must take place.

Polling Data

If a presidential election took place tomorrow, which of the following candidates would you vote for?

Juan Manuel Santos (U)

34.1%

Noemí Sanín (PC)

21.7%

Antanas Mockus (PV)

8.9%

Gustavo Petro (PD)

7.1%

Germán Vargas Lleras (CR)

6.6%

Rafael Pardo (PL)

5.5%

Sergio Fajardo (Ind.)

4.4%

Blank vote

2.7%

Undecided

8.3%

Source: Datexco / El Tiempo / W Radio
Methodology: Interviews with 2,529 Colombian adults in 13 cities, conducted from Mar. 20 to Mar. 23, 2010. Margin of error is 3.7 per cent.