Two anti-establishment candidates, the leftist Gustavo Petro and Rodolfo Hernandez, the right-wing populist, took first places in Colombia’s presidential election, dealing a major blow to Colombia’s dominant conservative political class.
The two men will compete in a run-off on June 19, which is set to be one of the most important elections in the country’s history. The country’s economic model, its democratic integrity, and the livelihoods of millions of people who have been put at risk are poverty during the pandemic.
With more than 99 percent of the votes counted on Sunday evening, Petro has more than 40 percent of the vote, while Mr. Hernandez has only 28 percent. Mr. Hernandez won by more than four percentage points over the establishment’s conservative candidate, Federico Gutierrez, who had finished second on the ballot.
Mr. Hernandez’s unexpected second-place win shows a nation hungry to elect anyone not represented by the country’s main conservative leaders.
“This is a vote against Duque, against the political class,” said Colombian political scientist Daniel Garcia Peña, referring to the current president, Ivan Duque, who took office four years ago with the support of the country’s most powerful conservatives. Kings Alvaro Uribe.
He said the Petro-Hernandez showdown pits “change against change”.
Mr. Pietro, a leftist, is a senator and former rebel who is proposing to reform the country’s capitalist economic system. Next month he was expected to face Mr. Gutierrez.
Instead, voters decided that Mr. Petro will take on Mr. Hernandez, a businessman and former mayor with an anti-corruption program and Trump’s disdain that was largely unknown until a few weeks ago.
The elections were marked by deep frustration with chronic poverty, inequality, and growing insecurity. The country has 10 percent inflation, a 20 percent youth unemployment rate, and a 40 percent poverty rate.
At the same time, Invamer polls show a growing distrust of almost all institutions, including Congress, political parties, the military, the police and the media.
Peña Garcia said this widespread disappointment had led many voters to reject two driving forces in Colombian politics: political dynasties dominated by a few families, and Uribismo, a hardline conservative group named for its founder, Mr. Uribe, who was president from 2002 to 2010.
Mr. Petro and Mr. Hernandez are proposing new – and radically different – paths forward for the country.
If Mr. Pietro is elected in the runoff, he will be the first left-wing president in the nation’s history. He proposes a broad expansion of social programs, halting all new oil exploration, and cutting off a major source of income.
His base includes many Colombians who believe they have been let down by the right.
“This is the awakening of many young people who have really realized that our grandparents and fathers lied to them,” said Camila Riveros, 30, a Petro supporter. “They sold a salvation story that wasn’t true.”
Mr. Hernandez, the former mayor of a mid-sized city, has based his campaign on one issue – imprisoning the corrupt – but his position on other issues is less clear.
He suggested bringing together ministries to save money and declaring a 90-day state of emergency to tackle corruption, Which leads to fears He might shut down Congress or stop the mayors.
Some Colombians described it as a loose cannon. He once said that he was A fan of Adolf Hitler – claiming that he later described it as a mistake – and on another occasion slapped a city councilman, Provocation of the suspension of the position. He recently gave an interview to CNN They are wearing silk pajamas.
But some voters said they were drawn to what he promised. “I think his entrepreneurial view of things is comparable to Trump,” said Salvador Rizzo, 26, a tech consultant who lives in Medellin.
“I think the other candidates are seeing a house on fire and they want to put out that fire and expose the house,” he said. “I think the view of Rodolfo is: that there is a house that could be a huge hotel in the future.”
Genevieve Glatsky from Bogotá contributed reporting.
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