Nomination: Centro Democrático
Slogan: El futuro es de todos
In one word: Hardline
Who is he?
The 41-year-old has had a comparatively short career in politics, only being appointed to the senate in 2014. He is supported by former president Álvaro Uribe, and rose to fame as one of the leaders of the ‘No’ campaign for the 2016 plebiscite to ratify the peace accord.
The populist right-wing candidate has been leading the polls, but as polls have been wrong in many countries recently this does not mean his victory is a done deal.
What he stands for:
Following his patron Uribe’s hard line against the FARC, Duque will do everything in his power to put the former guerrilla members in prison and keep them out of politics. He taps into high levels of dissatisfaction with the peace agreement and will try to push through constitutional reforms to undo key aspects of the deal.
Duque promises to take a hard line on coca cultivation, saying that compulsory eradication is the only option.
He has made a number of economic proposals such as simplifying the tax code, which he should have little difficulty pushing through congress due to his party’s strong showing in the congressional and senatorial elections. He is promising firm action against the ELN (the country’s remaining rebel group) as well as FARC dissidents.
Duque says he will stimulate international investments and intensify relations with the United States in the war on drugs. He takes a zero-tolerance stance on drugs.
Find out about the other candidates:
|Everything else you need to know about the presidential elections.|
Duque is backed by the same swathes of Uribe supporters that gave the former president the most senatorial seats in the recent elections.
He can also count on the support of the Conservative party thanks to his vice-presidential candidate Marta Lucía Ramírez.
He will be counting on the votes of those who opted ‘No’ in the plebiscite and now applaud his proposals to undo parts of the peace agreement. Most notable is his stance against impunity for certain crimes, as well as commitments to strengthen state forces in order to combat the ELN and former FARC dissidents.
His supporters are in favour of his strategy of forced coca eradication and believe that he will bring stability to the country.
The biggest criticisms of Duque are his lack of experience and accusations that he would be a puppet for Uribe. He answers that it is time for the younger generation, and says that while he and Uribe are close, he is his own man.
But it is his proposals to modify – or even dismantle – the peace agreement with the FARC, especially the transitional justice accords, that his critics fear.
Another concern is his plan to merge all of the high courts into one and to reduce the congress – which would be massive changes to the country’s justice and governance. Opposition like Senator Iván Cepeda Castro accuse him of trying to gain impunity for his supporter Uribe and said, “It’s a proposal suited to a dictatorship.”
He’s also – along with Vargas Lleras – drawn fire for failing to close the door on fracking, a position he has since backtracked on slightly.
Duque has also been accused by various sectors of connections with far-right leaning companies that themselves have connections to paramilitary activity.
– By Emma Newbery, Oli Pritchard and Freek Huigen. This article first appeared in edition 54 of The Bogotá Post.