Next Sunday (29), Colombia will hold the first round of its presidential election with polls pointing to the leadership of the candidate who is trying to become the first left-wing president in the country’s history: Senator Gustavo Petro, a former member of the M-Guerrilla 19 and former mayor of Bogotá.
Friend of Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chávez, but disaffected by successor Nicolás Maduro, the candidate of the Historic Pact has been leading the polls for the first round with about 40% of the voting intentions. If the second round is necessary, it will be on June 19.
Petro’s two closest opponents in terms of voting intentions are from the right, Federico “Fico” Gutiérrez and Rodolfo Hernández, both at around 20 percentage points each.
Former mayor of Medellín, the second largest city in Colombia, “Fico” is supported by Óscar Iván Zuluaga, who resigned from his candidacy for the Democratic Center, the party of the current president, Iván Duque. He does not run for reelection because Colombian electoral legislation stipulates only a presidential term.
Rodolfo Hernández, nicknamed the “Colombian Donald Trump” for his career as a businessman and for his virulent anti-system speech, focused on the fight against corruption, could be the big surprise of the election. The former mayor of Bucaramanga has doubled his voting intentions since March and in a simulation for the second round held last week he appeared ahead of Petro.
This past week, the leftist, who was accused during the espionage campaign by “Fico” and of planning a “social pardon” for those convicted of corruption (he denied both accusations), is trying to get support from other parties and political currents to win the dispute in the first round.
The mistrust of his social and economic proposals weighs against Petro, criticized in a report released by the American bank JPMorgan Chase.
If he wins, he will also have difficulties in approving projects in the Colombian Congress, since, despite the Historic Pact being the most voted party for the Senate and the second most voted for the Chamber in the March legislative elections, parties from the right and center -right still have a majority in both houses.
“These elections are not similar to those of 2018, first, because the issue of peace [acordo assinado entre o governo colombiano e as Farc
em 2016] it is no longer even a matter of political dispute. The issue of ‘Venezuelanization’ [do país] It’s not on the agenda either,” Lariza Pizano, a political scientist at the University of the Andes, told Blu Radio in Bogotá.
“But there is a deep social concern derived from the pandemic and the impoverishment that it has brought: this issue is crucial and candidates who knew how to tune or emphasize it in this sense will have paved the way better. [para a Casa de Nariño, residência oficial do presidente da Colômbia]”, he added.
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