The polls will be open Sunday to elect Colombia’s Liberal Party presidential candidate for next year’s May elections.
Members of Colombia’s oldest political party – as well as all registered voters not affiliated with the party – will have the chance to choose between Humberto de la Calle and Juan Fernando Cristo.
De la Calle acted as the chief government negotiator during the peace talks with the FARC in Havana, while Cristo is the former Interior Minister.
Voting will take place between 8AM and 4PM on Sunday, and counting will be begin immediately afterwards. The party has said it expects at least 600,000 voters to participate.
These preliminary elections take place amidst somewhat of a political crisis for Colombia’s Liberal Party, traditionally a powerhouse in Colombia’s political system. Both the Liberal and Conservative parties are facing record-high disapproval ratings as the election approaches.
The apparent atmosphere of discontent and mistrust has left these two major parties uncertain of whom they should endorse. It has also helped convince the majority of the more than two dozen candidates planning to run next year to do so independently.
Ley seca won’t spoil the party, after all
Bars and liquor stores across Colombia will be closed from Sunday 6AM to Monday 6AM – not Saturday 6PM to Monday 6AM – in observance of Liberal Party elections.
The temporary nationwide ban, referred to as ley seca, was originally to be imposed for 36 hours starting on Saturday evening, but the measure met with an outpouring of objections from concerned business owners who felt the timeline to be excessive for a relatively small-scale election.
Although the initial timeline of the ban matched that of bans for typical elections, business owners and organisations representing these businesses pressed politicians to reconsider the duration in light of the economic impact an alcohol-less Saturday night would have.
Yesterday evening, President Santos took to twitter to acquiesce to their pleas:
Ley seca por la consulta liberal de este 19 de noviembre solo regirá desde las 6am del domingo hasta las 6am del lunes. Confío en que la jornada transcurra con total normalidad.
— Juan Manuel Santos (@JuanManSantos) November 17, 2017
Ley seca is part of Colombia’s political tradition, and a custom it shares with neighbouring countries Peru, Ecuador, and Venezuela. The reasoning behind the tradition is to keep elections orderly.