Critics of peace deal with rebels gain seats in Colombia elections

Julian Gallo known as Carlos Antonio Lozada of the political party FARC speaks during the closing of their campaign before legislative elections in Fusagasuga

A significant lead in votes for Colombian right-wing candidate Ivan Duque over leftist Gustavo Petro in presidential primaries pushed the peso up against the dollar on Monday as investors bet Duque would be more business friendly that the former guerrilla candidate.

The report notes that the Democratic Center has the best chance to build a functioning coalition in Congress, given that the party secured the largest number of seats, and right-wing parties secured a total of about two-thirds of the seats.

Petro's promise of a "social economy" that would raise taxes and shift away from oil, Colombia's top export, towards agriculture has anxious investors in the Andean nation as opinion polls showed the former member of the disbanded M-19 guerrilla group and ex-mayor of Bogota running ahead of Duque.

With 99.67 percent of the tally sheets processed, Petro won the official candidacy for his coalition with 2,848,868 votes or 84.69 percent, while Carlos Caicedo, the former mayor of Santa Marta, got 514,805 (15.3 percent).

This weekend, however, he cast his vote in parliamentary elections, as the former rebels made their first foray into electoral politics after a historic peace deal in 2016.

But Santos is ineligible for reelection in May's presidential vote and with his critics bolstered by Sunday's results, it is unsure exactly what peace will look like when he leaves office.

He has been vocal in his opposition to the 2016 FARC accord, which could stymie implementation if he wins.

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Centrist and leftist parties had also polled strongly, according to the partial results, with more than 90 per cent of the votes counted. "That said, the uncertainty surrounding the future of the peace agreement could be enough to moderate any recovery in financial markets if Duque's rise in the polls continues in the coming weeks", analysts said.

Despite this, the group will sit in the new legislature thanks to five seats reserved for it in both the senate and lower house of representatives until 2026 under the terms of the peace deal.

"On the Farc's side, these elections are a reality check", said Herbolzheimer, adding that the Farc will unlikely be tempted to return to the jungle.

Radical Change, the party of former Vice President German Vargas Lleras, saw a surge in support and was on course to win 16 Senate seats.

They both favour improvements to infrastructure and tax cuts for businesses, though Fajardo is considered left-leaning.

Left-wing candidates, including the Liberals' Humberto de la Calle, who was the government's head negotiator at the FARC talks, say negotiations are positive but not a panacea.

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