The countries of the region are closely following the actions, which can generate changes on the political board with regard to bilateral relations. Facing the ballot, the last polls prior to the electoral ban in Colombia reflected a technical tie between the senator Petro (62 years old) and businessman Hernández (77). Both candidates emerged from the “anti-system” logic, from the ideological extremes.
The senator and former mayor of Bogotá, Petro, was the undisputed leader in the polls prior to the first round, where he prevailed with 40% in the elections held on May 29.. It is the third time that the economist (former guerrilla who signed the peace in the nineties) competes for the presidency. He represented the promise of a historic left turn for the first time in history.
For its part, Rodolfo Hernandez, a businessman in the construction sector in his country, was the surprise when he obtained second place with 28% of the votes and left Federico “Fico” Gutiérrez, the candidate of the former president and historic owner of Colombian politics, in the running. Alvaro Uribe. To achieve this, the former mayor of Bucamaranga took the fight against corruption as central ideas in his campaign speech and mounted a bizarre campaign on social networks, in addition to making a series of “populist” promises.
Faced with this scenario, Colombian citizens took these two candidates from the extremes to the ballot. There was no election for the historical political parties, which is why this electoral process in Colombia is quite a phenomenon. If Petro wins, the left will come to power for the first time and if the victory goes to Hernández, a millionaire without a party entangled with justice will be at the head of the country.
Voting in Colombia: two antagonistic models in dispute
Petro and Hernandez they represent rupture and change, but with opposing models and styles. The first wants to strengthen the State, transform the health and pension system, and suspend oil exploration to make way for clean energy, in the face of the climate crisis.
“The country needs social justice to be able to build itself in peace (…) that is to say, less poverty, less hunger, less inequality, more rights. If you don’t do that, the violence deepens,” Petro maintains.
Hernández landed in this contest as an outsider with money and business success, and a proposal to fight corruption, austere government and less bureaucracy.
“I am going to reduce the size of the State, to end corruption and replace with efficient and non-corrupt officials those who have been placed in previous governments and who are marked by incapacity and inefficiency,” he said in his many public appearances in the campaign.
Both have experience as mayors. Petro was mayor of Bogotá (2012-2015), and Hernández of Bucaramanga (2016-2019), a city of about 600,000 inhabitants. The first is an economist who wants the rich to pay more taxes and the other a construction engineer who proposes to reduce VAT from 19% to 10%.
They agree that they will restore relations with Venezuela, support the 2016 peace agreement with the extinct FARC, and seek dialogue with the National Liberation Army, the last recognized guerrilla group in the country.
Powerful sectors and the Armed Forces are resisting Petro because of his past in the armed struggle and his ambitious project of reforms that, they fear, will affect private property and lead the country towards a failed socialism. If he wins, the military will have to swear allegiance to a former guerrilla fighter in a country traumatized by a six-decade conflict with far-left rebels.
With Hernández, uncertainty reigns. The tycoon who promises to eradicate corruption is called to trial for irregularities in a contract signed in his time as mayor that could prevent him from governing. He is a tongue-in-cheek politician, who frequently backs down and has made sexist comments.