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Colombian Elections:Santos win first round with 46% , and has a lock on the runoff.


Santos is the winner!

BOGOTA, COLOMBIA — A former defense minister who would continue President Álvaro Uribe’s tough anti-guerrilla policies handily defeated a former Bogota mayor Sunday in the first round of presidential elections. Juan Manuel Santos, 58, who oversaw the most decisive strikes against rebel forces, did not garner the simple majority needed to win outright. But his lead over the second-place finisher, Antanas Mockus, was so commanding that he is likely to win the presidency in a second round of voting on June 20.

“It’s quite a landslide,” said Cynthia Arnson, a Colombia scholar at Washington’s Woodrow Wilson Center. “It pretty much seems to me that Santos has a lock on the second round.”

Santos took 46.6 percent of the vote — or 6.7 million voters, more than double the 3.1 million who voted for Mockus. In the second round, he can count on many of the pro-Uribe voters who backed Germán Vargas Lleras, the third-place finisher, and Noemi Sanin, a former Uribe administration diplomat who finished a distant fifth.

Mockus, also 58, had risen in the polls in recent weeks, appealing to voters captivated by his message of delivering clean government. “Mockus is talking about building confidence, of a positive attitude in addressing the nation’s problems,” said Ernesto Correa, 56, a doctor.

But once in the voting booth, more Colombians supported the candidate they perceived as the safe bet — the man who would continue Uribe’s popular policies, analysts said. Mockus, the son of Lithuanian immigrants and a two-time mayor of Bogota, lost all but one state and Bogota, which was considered his stronghold.