Former Bogota mayor would beat Santos in Colombian election: poll

BOGOTA Tue Apr 1, 2014 7:57am EDT

Green Party candidate for mayor of Bogota, Enrique Penalosa, speaks to the media at a school in Bogota, October 30, 2011. REUTERS/Fredy Builes

Green Party candidate for mayor of Bogota, Enrique Penalosa, speaks to the media at a school in Bogota, October 30, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Fredy Builes

BOGOTA (Reuters) - Enrique Penalosa, the former mayor of Bogota, would win the presidential election in a second round against President Juan Manuel Santos, according to a poll by Centro Nacional de Consultoria published late Monday.

Penalosa, who ran the capital city from 1998 to 2001, would finish behind Santos in a first ballot on May 25, 26 percent to 18 percent, but beat him in a runoff, the poll of 1,500 people showed.

He would win 41 percent of the vote in a second round on June 15, versus 36 percent for Santos, the CNC survey said. A candidate needs more than 50 percent to avoid a runoff.

A contender for the center-left Green Alliance party, Penalosa is unlikely to cut off peace talks with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, a Marxist rebel group known as FARC. Santos launched the talks at the end 2012.

The government and FARC are currently working through the third item on a five-point agenda that seeks to bring an end to five decades of conflict that has killed more than 200,000 people, mostly civilians.

Oscar Ivan Zuluaga, who represents the party formed by right-wing ex-president Alvaro Uribe, slipped into third place in the CNC survey of voting intent for the first round. Zuluaga is a fierce critic of talks with the FARC.

The poll was conducted by fixed-line telephone March 25-28 in 1,098 towns throughout Colombia. It has a margin of error of 2.5 percent.

The results differ from those of surveys by Gallup and Ipsos Napoleon Franco, which give the center-right Santos a comfortable win in both rounds of voting against Zuluaga. The two polls conduct face-to-face interviews in households nationwide.

(Reporting by Helen Murphy; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)

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