Colombian voters go to the polls on Sunday (19) to choose whether the country’s next president is Gustavo Petro, an economist and left-wing leader, or Rodolfo Hernandez, a businessman who was once the mayor of Bucaramanga.
The country has never had a left-wing president, and Pietro, who led the vote in the first round, is the politician from this ideological spectrum with the greatest chance of being elected.
Rodolfo Hernandez, opponent, 77-year-old engineer.
Elections in Colombia: Opinion polls show leftist Petro and millionaire Hernandez tied
The votes of the candidates in the first round were as follows:
- Gustavo Petro: 40.34%
- Rodolfo Hernandez: 28.1
Polls indicate that candidates have similar voting intentions. Here are some predictions:
Guarumo and EcoAnalytic Research published on June 11:
- Rodolfo Hernandez: 48.2%
- Gustavo Petro: 46.5%
Invamer research published on June 10:
- Rodolfo Hernandez: 48.2%
- Gustavo Petro: 47.2%
Tracking from research firm GAD3 posted on June 10:
- Rodolfo Hernandez: 47.9%
- Gustavo Petro 47.1%
Voting begins at 8 am and ends at 4 pm on Sunday (19).
Pietro is a former mayor of the city of Bogota and is currently a member of the Senate. He is a former member of the M-19 guerrilla movement that abandoned armed struggle in the late 1980s.
He proposed an ambitious tax reform of $13.5 billion – the equivalent of 5.5% of Colombia’s GDP – funded by higher taxes on the rich.
He promised to improve social and economic conditions in a country where half of the population lives in some form of poverty.
Hernandez, a surprise candidate in the run-off, was backed by anti-corruption pledges and plans to shrink the government and housing the poor.
However, he faces an investigation by the Public Prosecutor’s Office for allegedly interfering with a garbage-collecting tender while the mayor of Bucaramanga, for the benefit of his son’s lobbying firm.
Hernandez denies the allegations and his supporters like his anti-establishment image.
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Economics is one of the main themes of this year’s elections, and the two are trying to differentiate themselves on the subject, according to Fabio Sanchez, a professor at the School of Politics and International Relations of Sergio Arboleda University in Bogota.
Hernandez uses his image as an entrepreneur who can use his management skills in the state. “In his show, he talks about credits and subsidies so that the country can be competitive in international markets,” Arboleda says.
Petro suggests changing the extractive model to a productive economy (in addition to being an agricultural producer, Colombia also exports oil and minerals). “This may include agrarian reform that could generate significant resistance in some sectors,” says the professor. He explained that the central issue of the economic debate in the elections is how to manage poverty reduction and improve levels of development and industrialization.
Leave for unknown
Although Hernandez’s economic rhetoric was closer to the right, today’s candidate cannot be classified as a far-rightist, says Fernanda Nancy Gonçalves, a professor at UFRJ and Unilasalle-RJ.
Its political spectrum is difficult to define. It’s definitely not on the left, but it’s not right, at the moment, to say it’s on the far right,” she says.
The professor says that Hernandez, despite similarities with former President Donald Trump, of the United States, or with Jair Bolsonaro, of Brazil, is a different politician.
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“During the election campaign, Hernandez said that if he was elected, he wanted to restore relations with Venezuela, he had already said that he would not oppose abortion, and this is a scandal in a deeply religious society like Colombia – and he says it is important to conclude a peace agreement with the ELN fighters, although He said his daughter had been kidnapped and killed by the group Prof. Gonçalves says that the lack of a clear agenda is a strategy he uses.
She shows that the similarities with Trump and Bolsonaro are more in the way they do politics: the use of social networks (Hernandez makes many videos on TikTok), direct and objective rhetoric, without beating the bush, and the anti-corruption agenda, which appears insistent but ambiguous (he doesn’t mention how intends to fight corruption.
Hernandez’s candidacy does not represent the traditional right in Colombia. This sector of politics is dominated by former President Alvaro Uribe. After leaving the presidency, Uribe was able to act to elect two allies: Juan Manuel Santos (later, the two separated) and the current president, Ivan Duque.
“The Duque government has had the lowest approval rate since the 1990s, and there are so many people against this government, which alienated ‘Oribestas’,” says Andres del Rio, professor of political science at the Federal University of Fluminense. (UFF).
difficult to judge
Even before the elections, it can be said that the next president will have difficulties with the legislature.
The leftist coalition comprises about 30% of the Colombian legislature, and Hernandez’s party is barely represented in Congress, Andres says. Although the right has lost ground in Congress, it is still more or less than half, although divided into several parties. Whoever the president is, there will be several negotiations with these parties,” he says.
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