Election in Colombia: outcomes and reside updates

Recognition…Joaquin Sarmiento/Agence France-Presse – Getty Images

Two anti-establishment candidates, Gustavo Petro, a leftist, and Rodolfo Hernández, a right-wing populist, took the top two spots in Colombia’s presidential election, dealing a stunning blow to Colombia’s dominant conservative political class.

The two men will compete on June 19 in what is shaping up to be one of the most momentous in the country’s history. At stake are the country’s economic model, its democratic integrity and the livelihoods of millions of people pushed into poverty during the pandemic.

With more than 99 percent of the votes counted Sunday night, Mr. Petro received more than 40 percent, while Mr. Hernández received just over 28 percent. Mr Hernández beat establishment conservative candidate Federico Gutiérrez, who was second in the polls, by more than four percentage points.

Mr. Hernández’s unexpected victory in second place shows a nation poised to elect anyone not represented by the country’s conservative leaders.

“This is a vote against Duque, against the political class,” said Daniel García-Peña, a Colombian political scientist, referring to current President Iván Duque, who came into office four years ago with the backing of the country’s most powerful conservative Kingmaker, Álvaro Uribe.

The duel between Petro and Hernández, he said, was “change versus change.”

Mr. Petro, on the left, is a senator and former rebel who is proposing an overhaul of the country’s capitalist economic system. He had been expected to face Mr Gutiérrez next month.

Instead, voters decided that Mr. Petro will run against Mr. Hernández, a businessman and former mayor with an anti-corruption platform and Trumpian irreverence who was largely unknown until just weeks ago.

The election was marked by deep frustration with chronic poverty, inequality and growing insecurity. The country is burdened with 10 percent inflation, 20 percent youth unemployment and a 40 percent poverty rate.

At the same time, surveys by Invamer show growing distrust of almost every institution, including Congress, political parties, the military, police and media.

That widespread disillusionment has led many voters to dismiss two driving forces in Colombian politics, Mr Peña-Garcia said: political dynasties dominated by a few families, and uribismo, an uncompromising conservatism named after its founder, Mr Uribe , was named President from 2002 to 2010.

Both Mr. Petro and Mr. Hernández propose new – and radically different – ​​paths for the country.

If elected in the runoff, Mr. Petro would be the first leftist President in the nation’s history. He proposes a broad expansion of social programs while halting all new oil exploration and cutting off an important source of revenue.

His base includes many Colombians who believe the right has failed them.

“This is the awakening of many young people who have truly realized that our grandparents and parents have been lied to,” said Camila Riveros, 30, a Petro supporter. “You were sold a salvation story that wasn’t true.”

Mr. Hernández, a former mayor of a medium-sized city, has based his campaign on one issue – the jailing of the corrupt – but his position on other issues is less clear.

He has proposed merging departments to save money and declaring a state of emergency for 90 days to fight corruption, prompting fears he could shut down Congress or suspend mayors.

Some Colombians have called him a loose cannon. He once said he was a fan of Adolf Hitler – a claim he later called a mistake – and on another occasion he slapped a city councilman and provoked impeachment. He recently gave an interview to CNN in silky pajamas.

However, some voters said they were drawn to what he had promised. “I think his entrepreneurial view of things is comparable to Trump,” said Salvador Rizo, 26, a tech consultant who lives in Medellín.

“I think the other candidates want to watch a burning house and put out that fire and unveil the house,” he said. “What I think is Rodolfo’s view: that there is a house that can be a huge hotel in the future.”

Reporting was provided by Genevieve Glatsky from Bogotá.

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