Colombia Presidential Election Heads to Runoff

Photo credit: AFP

Leftist former guerrilla and a populist outsider are headed into a runoff in the Colombian presidential election. The two opposing anti-establishment candidates will enter the runoff on June 19. Voters on Sunday did not outwardly choose a president. 

Leftist former guerilla candidate and onetime mayor of Bogota, Gustavo Petro, won the largest share of the vote. He secured 40 percent of the vote, but he fell short of the 50 percent that was required to win outright and prevent a second round from being necessary. 

The rival is a conservative, populist outsider, a business magnate, and social media firebrand, Rodolfo Hernandez. He won 28 percent of the vote. 

Voters in Colombia went to the polls amid a polarized environment, and amid growing discontent over increasing inequality and inflation. 

Hernandez was pretty much unknown until surging in the polls right before the election. His campaign was largely conducted on TikTok and has been criticized for being too light on actual policies, and very heavy on anti-establishment populism. 

After the vote, Hernandez made a speech, in which he said that the nation of workers and of honesty won and that the nation does not want to go on with the same people that got the country into the situation that it is in today. 

Defeated was the right-wing former mayor of Medellin, who was widely seen as continuing the current government. Federico Gutierrez underperformed in the election, with only 23 percent of the vote. 

Petro was the frontrunner in the polls for months. He came in second in the elections in 2018. His platform has promised to make significant adjustments to the economy, including tax reform, and changes to how the nation fights drug cartels and other armed groups. 

If Petro wins over Hernandez in June, it will mark the first time Colombia has a president from the left. 

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