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uribe santos

The polls are moving away from President Santos quicker than you can say 12 million dollars in narco-money.

Alvaro Uribe looks on course to return to the Casa de Nariño just four years after its doors were closed behind him. Vicariously of course, as Uribe himself is not running for president. But make no mistake, if his candidate, Oscar Ivan Zuluaga does win the election, it will be Mr Uribe who governs, not Zuluaga.

Last night, for the first time, polls showed – by a margin of 8 points – Mr Zuluaga on course to beat incumbent Juan Manuel Santos.

The Santos camp appears to be sleepwalking to defeat. They thought they had it sewn up.

But the momentum is shifting at break neck speed, and the Liberals, Cambio Radical, Greens and anyone else who’d jumped aboard the re-election bandwagon is beginning to panic.

Just a month ago, Mr Zuluaga was an also run. In fact, he was languishing a distant third in the polls. But almost over night he has doubled his voting intention, spending hundreds of thousands on effective publicity, and traversing the nation in a frenzy of campaigning.

At the same time, President Santos has been hit with scandal after scandal after scandal, and his credibility with Colombians is at rock bottom.

Santos can still save himself, and has the media on his side as well the huge state coffers to dig him out of trouble. And yet… momentum is a tricky beast to tame, and Mr Zuluaga now looks a darn good bet for president.

So what will happen if Uribismo returns to power?

Most likely the peace talks with the FARC will collapse almost immediately. The FARC’s animosity towards Uribe means they will try to pull the plug first.

Uribe’s Democratic Centre senators (of which he is the top dog) will try to form a coalition to establish a majority in the upper house. Expect the Conservatives to jump the Santos ship and hop into bed with their old boss (they were always happier under an Uribe presidency).  Expect too, some of those that today are violently opposed to Uribe, to soften their stance and start to cosy up to him.

Uribe will go big on law and order, and declare a war on urban crime. The police will be given new powers and a new cabinet minister for civil order will be created. Expect an ex-army chief to take up the role.

Uribe will join forces with the inspector general to kick Petro out of office for good. Pacho Santos will be the new mayor of Bogota.

The congressional coalition will work to draft constitutional amendments to permit a president to run for a third term – Mr Uribe will be chosen as the Democratic Centre National Unity candidate in 2018. He will win. Within 18 months of taking office Mr Zuluaga will take a back seat; Uribe will morph into Vladimir Putin.

The left will rue a missed opportunity and will complain from day one of persecution and harassment.

Colombia’s media will miraculously change their tune, lending support to the new president and labelling Santos a traitor.

Money will be pumped into education – it’s Zuluaga’s number one campaigning platform – and rural Colombia will receive a bonanza. A representative of the campesino movement will be chosen as a cabinet minister and Uribe will establish a new social contract with the nation’s farmers.

And finally, relations with Venezuela will be broken off again and Colombia’s army will go after the FARC guerrillas in the neighbouring territory. Maduro will sweat, as the US secretly backs Mr Uribe’s campaign.

Uribe back in the presidential palace in August when the new term starts? Yes – unless Santos wakes up from his malaise, and develops some fight. These are strange days indeed.

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