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2002 Colombian presidential election

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2002 Colombian presidential election

← 1998 26 May 2002 2006 →
Nominee Álvaro Uribe Horacio Serpa
Party Colombia First Liberal
Home state Antioquia Santander
Running mate Francisco Santos Calderón José Gregorio Hernández Galindo
Popular vote 5,862,655 3,514,779
Percentage 53.05% 31.80%

Results by department

President before election

Andrés Pastrana Arango

Elected President

Álvaro Uribe
Colombia First

Presidential elections were held in Colombia on 26 May 2002.[1] Álvaro Uribe, the candidate of the recently created Colombia First movement, was elected, receiving 53% of the vote by the first round. Uribe took office on 7 August.[2]



In the 1998 presidential elections, Andrés Pastrana of the Colombian Conservative Party was elected to the presidency on a platform of holding peace negotiations with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) guerrillas. After over three years of tortuous dialogue – while the conflict continued unabated in the rest of the country – Pastrana announced on 20 February 2002 that he was ending the peace process with the FARC. During this complicated period, public opinion radicalized in favour of a strong military strategy to end the Colombian armed conflict.[3]



Conservative Party


In 2001 the governing coalition – composed of the Conservative Party and dissident Liberals – which had carried Pastrana to the presidency in 1998 began looking for a candidate to carry the coalition into the 2002 elections. Former Vice President and Minister of the Interior Humberto de La Calle, a dissident Liberal, was approached but he declined, arguing that the candidacy should go to a Conservative. The Minister of Economic Development, Augusto Ramírez Ocampo, resigned his portfolio to seek the presidency, but he later failed to obtain Conservative support because of his low support in the polls.[4]

Following Ramírez Ocampo's withdrawal, the party's president, Carlos Holguín Sardi organized an internal consultation among the over 16,000 delegates in the national convention. Some members of the party wished to offer the candidacy to Noemí Sanín (a former Conservative who had run as an independent in the 1998 election, placing third in the first round), but she declined, opting to continue her independent candidacy. As a result, her supporters within the party's ranks decided not to participate in the internal consultation and join her campaign directly. Three candidates registered to participate in the Conservative primary, the favourite and eventual winner by a large margin was Juan Camilo Restrepo. Restrepo, who had lost the 1998 Conservative candidacy to Pastrana, had later served in Pastrana's cabinet as Minister of Finance (1998-2000), where his austere measures against the economic crisis made him unpopular and led to his appointment as Colombia's ambassador to France. With most of the Conservative party ultimately supporting Uribe, Restrepo withdrew from the race.[5][6]

Liberal Party


The official candidate of the Liberal Party was Horacio Serpa, who had already been the party's candidate in the 1998 election.[7] Despite being a polarizing figure, Serpa entered the election as the favourite.[8]

Álvaro Uribe's independent candidacy


Álvaro Uribe, the former Liberal governor of Antioquia (1995-1997), entered the race as a strong opponent of the peace talks with the FARC, but originally suffered from low name recognition against other better-known candidates. Uribe declined to participate in a Liberal primary, citing the lack of guarantees, and instead launched an independent candidacy (by collecting signatures from voters to win ballot access) with the backing of the Colombia First (Primero Colombia) movement.[9]

Uribe entered the field taking a hardline position against the peace talks with the FARC, arguing that peace talks should only be held following the cessation of hostilities and terrorist actions.[10]

The left


Luis Eduardo Garzón, the first president of the Central Union of Workers between 1990 and 2001, ran as the candidate of the left-wing Social and Political Front, later joined by other left-wing parties including the ANAPO and united under the name Independent Democratic Pole. His candidacy received a major boost following the left's good results in the March 2002 congressional elections.



With public opinion having turned against the continuation of peace talks with the guerrilla, Uribe saw his support in the polls increase at a consistent pace. He broke through, surpassing Serpa, beginning in February 2002, following President Pastrana's announcement that he was ending the peace process.[11]

The shift in the polls led a number of Conservatives to abandon their party's official candidate and join Uribe. Decrying the lack of support for his candidacy, Juan Camilo Restrepo dropped out and the Conservative Party chose to officially endorse Uribe.[12] Uribe also received the support of a number of other small parties and movements, including Radical Change, senator Germán Vargas Lleras' Colombia Siempre, the National Salvation Movement and Team Colombia.[9]

Opinion polls

Date Polling Firm/Source Uribe (L. diss.) Serpa (L) Garzón (PDI) Sanín Oth. Lead
18–23 May Napoleón Franco[13] 48.2 27.4 8.2 6.1 10.1 20.8
12–14 May Napoleón Franco[14] 49.3 23 7.8 6 13.9 26.3
18-23 Apr Napoleón Franco[15] 47.6 27.4 7 6.5 11.5 20.2
1-2 Apr Caracol-El Espectador-Cambio[16] 51 29 4 7 9 22
20-23 Mar Serpa internal[16] 49 31 4 7 9 18
26 Feb-5 Mar Uribe internal[16] 54 24 3 8 11 30
21-24 Feb Napoleón Franco[17] 59.5 24 1.2 5.1 2.2 35.5
4 Feb Napoleón Franco[18] 53 24 12 11 29
19-25 Jan 2002 Napoleón Franco[19] 39 30.1 0.9 16.9 13.1 8.9
19-22 Sep 2001 Napoleón Franco[8] 23.4 41.2 16.2 19.2 17.8


Álvaro UribeColombia First5,862,65553.05
Horacio SerpaColombian Liberal Party3,514,77931.80
Luis Eduardo GarzónIndependent Democratic Pole680,2456.16
Noemí SanínYes Colombia641,8845.81
Íngrid BetancourtOxygen Green Party53,9220.49
Harold Bedoya PizarroForce Colombia50,7630.46
Francisco TovarCivic Defence Movement16,3330.15
Augusto Guillermo Lora19th of April Movement10,9870.10
Álvaro CristanchoCommon Participation Movement9,6270.09
Guillermo Antonio CardonaColombian Community and Communal Political Movement8,0230.07
Rodolfo RinconCommunity Participation6,3110.06
Blank votes196,1161.77
Valid votes11,051,64598.24
Invalid votes198,0891.76
Total votes11,249,734100.00
Registered voters/turnout24,208,31146.47
Source: RNEC


  1. ^ Nohlen, Dieter (2005) Elections in the Americas: A data handbook, Volume II, p. 306 ISBN 978-0-19-928358-3
  2. ^ Nohlen, p. 360
  3. ^ Franco, Napoleón; Stamato, Vicente (2008). Colombia Encuestada: Opinión Pública - Periodismo - Política. Bogotá: N. Franco & Cía. S.C.A. p. 255.
  4. ^ "Falleció el ex canciller Augusto Ramírez Ocampo". El Tiempo. 15 June 2011. Retrieved 10 September 2015.
  5. ^ "Quién es Quién - Juan Camilo Restrepo Salazar". La Silla Vacía. Retrieved 10 September 2015.
  6. ^ Daza, Javier Duque. "Institucionalización organizativa y procesos de selección de candidatos presidenciales en los partidos Liberal y Conservador colombianos 1974-2006". Estudios Políticos. 31. Retrieved 10 September 2015.
  7. ^ "Quién es Quién - Horacio Serpa Uribe". La Silla Vacía. Retrieved 10 September 2015.
  8. ^ a b Franco, p. 257
  9. ^ a b "Quién es Quién - Álvaro Uribe Vélez". La Silla Vacía. Retrieved 10 September 2015.
  10. ^ "Programa de Gobierno / Álvaro Uribe: Proceso de paz". Votebien.com. Terra.com.co. Retrieved 10 September 2015.
  11. ^ Franco, p. 256
  12. ^ "Una elección histórica". Colombia.com. 27 May 2002. Retrieved 10 September 2015.
  13. ^ Franco, p. 270
  14. ^ Franco, p. 269
  15. ^ Franco, p. 267
  16. ^ a b c Franco, p. 264
  17. ^ Franco, p. 262
  18. ^ Franco, p. 260
  19. ^ Franco, p. 259