On May 25th, Colombians will decide if they want four more years of the same government policies or if they are ready for a change. President Juan Manuel Santos is up for reelection, and despite Colombia’s growing economy, Santos’ attempt at serving a second term appears to be struggling. CCTV’s Michelle Begue takes a look at how the economy will impact upcoming elections.
Tense Environment of Colombia\'s Presidential ElectionOn May 25th, Colombians will decide if they want four more years of the same government policies or if they are ready for a change. President Juan Manuel Santos is up for reelection, and despite Colombia's growing economy, Santos' attempt at serving a second term appears to be struggling. CCTV's Michelle Begue takes a look at how the economy will impact upcoming elections.
It has been a tense election environment in Colombia. While the economy expanded more than four percent last year and unemployment fell to its lowest levels since at least the year 2000, just weeks before presidential elections the country faces ongoing farmers’ and teachers’ strikes and a lagging Colombian industry.
Fabio Echeverri, Colombian economist , says: “I think there has been no incentive for the creation of the small- and medium-sized business and the development of the medium to large businesses. The country is eliminating businesses and production and is replacing it with imports.”
Under the presidency of Juan Manuel Santos, economic growth has been led by mining and energy, construction and services. In the latest election polls Santos’ main rival, Oscar Ivan Zuluaga, is seen gaining traction.
But most analysts admit Zuluaga backs many of the same economic policies as Santos, including support for free-trade agreements, a so-called “fiscal rule” which would restrict the government’s ability to run deficits and central bank independence. A lack of formal pre-election debates, between the candidates, has left many questions for voters.
Rafael Mejia, President of Colombia Agricultural Society, says: “The economy has been discussed, but each candidate focuses on the future but they don’t explain how they are going to achieve that future. So that is what is difficult when making the decisions.”
In the past four years under President Santos’ leadership, the country has seen frequent protests from coffee and rice growers and other agricultural groups as a strong peso currency and increased contraband erode the farmers’ incomes. And, as the government continues it peace talks in Cuba with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC rebels, Zuluaga says, if elected he would bring those negotiations to a swift end. Rafael Mejia, President of Colombia’s Agricultural Society believes if Colombia wants to see a successful end to peace talks helping the rural sector rise out of poverty will be essential.
Rafael Mejia says: “If the rural sector does not become a place where the rural and urban poverty inequality gap is diminished, then the agricultural sector will prevent a peace process, or any development project for the country from being complete.”
No matter who comes out the winner this May 25th, it seems Colombians will have to wait till the heat of election season passes to know if ideas of a better future are turned into concrete policies.