“We are writing a new history for Colombia, Latin America and the world,” declared Gustavo Petro, the winner of Colombia’s presidential election, in Bogotá on June nineteenth. “Change”, he mentioned, “will open opportunity and hope for all Colombians in every corner of the national territory.” The portentous tone was comprehensible. When he takes workplace on August seventh Mr Petro will turn into the nation’s first left-wing president. He gives a radical departure from twenty years of right-wing and centre-right rule. Mr Petro’s running-mate, Francia Márquez, a 40-year-old environmental activist, will turn into the nation’s first black vice-president.
Mr Petro gained by 50.4% to 47.3%, a wider than anticipated margin, in a run-off towards Rodolfo Hernández, a property tycoon. His 11.3m votes, helped by a document turnout of 58%, mark the best tally in Colombia’s electoral historical past. Mr Petro is a former mayor of Bogotá and as soon as belonged to m19, a leftist guerrilla group. His win is a part of a broader pattern in Latin America by which leftists with iconoclastic agendas are profitable elections. Mr Petro mentioned his authorities would “develop capitalism, not because we adore it, but because we have to overcome premodernity and feudalism.”
His win was a victory for press-the-flesh campaigning over social-media savvy. With polls forecasting a good race Mr Hernández, who reached the second spherical thanks primarily to finger-jabbing rants on TikTok, wanted to mobilise conservative and centrist voters. But within the ultimate week he cancelled media appearances and flew to Miami, saying his life was in danger. His standing amongst conservative sorts took an extra hit when a video emerged of him dancing to reggaeton on a yacht within the presence of a dozen younger girls in bikinis.
Mr Petro lower a extra statesmanlike determine. Having beforehand appeared behind bulletproof shields at huge rallies, he spent the final week gamely chopping sugar-cane within the Andes, using throughout Colombia’s japanese plains and selecting espresso within the agricultural heartland. Mr Petro had run for the presidency twice earlier than, leaving his motion, Pacto Histórico, nicely organised and efficient at mobilising grassroots help.
Nevertheless, many Colombians stay deeply distrustful of their president-elect. Polls taken earlier than the election polls discovered that he was much less in style amongst older voters who lived by way of the Nineteen Eighties and Nineties, a very violent interval of the nation’s long-running civil struggle. For many such voters Mr Petro’s membership of m19 is troublesome to swallow. Others concern that his plans for elevated social spending and curtailed oil exploration might sink an financial system that has been one of many area’s most persistently robust performers. The imf reckons Colombia will develop by 5.8% in 2022.
The coming days ought to present clues to the brand new authorities’s course. Pacto Histórico will maintain solely 15% of seats within the Senate and the Chamber of Representatives, so Mr Petro must search alliances. He can even reveal pivotal members of his cupboard. “The tone will be set by his minister of finance,” says Juan Carlos Echeverry, a former finance minister and head of Ecopetrol, the state oil agency.
It will not be clear what Mr Petro will do if he can not construct an efficient coalition. He has a status for authoritarianism, derived partly from his time as mayor of Bogotá and his closeness—typically exaggerated by his opponents—to the regime of Nicolás Maduro, the autocratic chief of Venezuela, a rustic with which Mr Petro plans to normalise ties. Many concern that Mr Petro’s plans to “democratise” Colombia’s establishments means stuffing them together with his followers.
Mr Petro’s win can also be a part of a wider regional shift. Following the elections of left-wing candidates in Mexico, Peru and Chile, Latin America’s current political swing has drawn comparability to the “pink tide” of the early 2000s, when left-leaning presidents dominated the area. But their current success owes much less to ideology than to robust anti-incumbent sentiment and a rising mistrust of typical politics. According to at least one ballot 81% of Colombians see corruption as one of many nation’s important issues, forward of inequality (58%) and insecurity (57%). Only 5% have a beneficial opinion of the nation’s political events. In 2019 and 2021 protests that racked the nation had been ferociously repressed by the police, apparently with the federal government’s approval. That left many youthful individuals distrustful of the political institution.
Many observers had feared that violence would additionally plague the election. But the vote was peaceable. Mr Hernández made a brief concession speech shortly after the polls closed. Mr Petro struck a conciliatory tone at his victory rally, promising that his opponents could be welcome to debate coverage and that he wouldn’t bully his critics.
As evening fell in Cali, a metropolis badly affected by final 12 months’s protests, the streets reverberated to the sound of vehicles honking in celebration. “Petro represents change,” mentioned Paola Quiñonez, a human-rights activist who took half within the demonstrations. “If the economy suffers, that’s ok. The people have lived through hunger, poverty and insecurity before. The people will hold on.”■