By REGINA GARCIA CANO and ASTRID SUAREZ, Related Press
BOGOTA, Colombia (AP) — Voters in Colombia will select between a former insurgent and an unpredictable millionaire Sunday after they vote in a presidential runoff that guarantees to reshape the nation after a primary spherical election that punished the political class.
Polls present leftist Gustavo Petro and outsider Rodolfo Hernández — each former mayors — virtually tied since topping 4 different candidates within the preliminary Could 29 election through which neither acquired sufficient votes to win outright, forcing the runoff. About 39 million individuals are eligible to vote Sunday, however abstentionism has been above 40% in each presidential election since 1990.
Colombians are voting amid widespread discontent over rising inequality, inflation and violence. The dissatisfaction with the nation’s circumstances is such that within the first spherical voters turned their backs on the long-governing centrist and right-leaning politicians and selected two outsiders.
Petro, a 62-year-old senator, is in his third presidential marketing campaign. A Petro victory would put an finish to voters’ long-held marginalization of the left because of its perceived affiliation with the nation’s armed battle. Petro was as soon as a insurgent with the now-defunct M-19 motion and was granted amnesty after being jailed for his involvement with the group.
He has proposed bold pension, tax, well being and agricultural reforms and modifications to how Colombia fights drug cartels and different armed teams. He obtained 40% of the votes throughout final month’s election and Hernández 28%, however the distinction shortly narrowed as Hernández started to garner the so-called anti-Petrista votes.
Petro might change into the newest leftist political victory in Latin America fueled by voters’ want for change. Chile, Peru and Honduras elected leftist presidents in 2021, and in Brazil, former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva is main the polls for this yr’s presidential election.
In the meantime, the 77-year-old Hernández, who made his cash in actual property, isn’t affiliated with any main political occasion and has rejected alliances. His austere marketing campaign, waged totally on TikTok and different social media platforms, was self-financed.
His proposals are primarily based on a battle in opposition to corruption, which he blames for poverty and the lack of state sources that may very well be used on social applications. He needs to cut back the scale of presidency by eliminating varied embassies and presidential places of work, turning the presidential palace right into a museum and decreasing the usage of the president’s plane fleet.
Hernández surged late within the first-round marketing campaign previous extra standard candidates and shocked many when he completed second. He has confronted controversies together with saying he admired Adolf Hitler after which apologizing saying that he meant to seek advice from Albert Einstein.
Silvia Otero Bahamón, political science professor on the Universidad del Rosario, stated that though each candidates are populists who “have an ideology primarily based on the division between the corrupt elite and the folks,” every one sees their battle in opposition to the institution in a different way.
“Petro pertains to the poor, the ethnic and cultural minorities of essentially the most peripheral areas of the nation, who’re lastly taken under consideration and invited to take part in democracy,” Otero stated. Whereas Hernández’s supporters are “extra ethereal, they’re the individuals who have been let down by politicking and corruption. It’s a looser group, which the candidate reaches instantly through social networks.”
Polls present the massive majority of Colombians imagine the nation is heading within the flawed path and disapprove of President Iván Duque, who was not eligible to hunt reelection. The pandemic set again the nation’s anti-poverty efforts by not less than a decade. Official figures present that 39% of Colombia’s lived on lower than $89 a month final yr, a slight enchancment from 42.5% in 2020.
The looming change away from conventional presidential politics has stirred fears in some on this conservative, principally Roman Catholic nation. Many are basing their choice on what they are not looking for, as a substitute of what they do need.
“Many individuals stated ‘I don’t care who’s standing in opposition to Petro, I’m going to vote for whomever represents the opposite candidate, no matter who that individual is,’” stated Silvana Amaya, a senior analyst with the agency Management Dangers. “That additionally works the opposite approach round. Rodolfo has been portrayed as this loopy outdated man, communication genius and indulgent character that some folks say: ‘I don’t care who I’ve to vote for, however I don’t need him to be my president.’”
Each males may have a tricky time delivering on their guarantees as neither has a majority in Congress, which is vital to finishing up reforms.
In latest legislative elections, Petro’s political motion obtained 20 seats within the Senate, a relative majority, however he would nonetheless need to make concessions in negotiations with different events. Hernández’s political motion solely has two representatives within the decrease home, so he would even have to hunt agreements with lawmakers, who he has alienated by repeatedly calling “thieves.”
Garcia Cano reported from Caracas, Venezuela.
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