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Colombia votes for change without defining how or where

Bogotá, May 29 (EFE).- The Colombians’ desire for change was expressed this Sunday at the polls with the victory of the leftist Gustavo Petro, who, however, will have to dispute the Presidency in the second round with the independent populist Rodolfo Hernández, the big surprise this election day. The result puts the country before an unprecedented scenario in which for the first time the left has clear options to come to power but first it has to convince a part of the electorate that today allowed itself to be seduced by Hernández’s siren songs and his promise to govern with the fight against corruption as the only flag. The erosion of the right wing, which is the one that has historically governed Colombia, and the growing social demands expressed in the massive street protests of 2021 were manifested today in the first presidential round, but the country is left without knowing what the change it so calls for will be. : Either turn left for the first time with Petro or try your luck with Hernández’s populism. THE LEFT AHEAD Petro, former guerrilla of the April 19th Movement (M-19), former mayor of Bogotá and candidate of the Historical Pact coalition, confirmed the forecasts of the polls by obtaining today, with 99.90% of the votes counted, 8,523 ,956 votes, equivalent to 40.32%, while Hernández received 5,952,067 ballots (28.15%). In third place was Federico “Fico” Gutiérrez, from the right-wing coalition Team for Colombia, with 5,054,993 votes (23.91%), a result that makes him the big loser of the day, and fourth was the candidate from the center, Sergio Fajardo, with 888,151 votes (4.20%), something that was coming for a candidacy that never took off. Petro’s vote, although it confirms his status as favorite, is only 500,000 more than the votes he received four years ago, when he lost in the second round with today’s president Iván Duque, and is well below what he expected to win in the first return, for which he lacked more than two million votes. “Today we have won. Today is a day of triumph. The results are almost complete now,” Petro said in his speech after learning the election figures, adding that his vote “almost doubles” the figures for March 13, when he was chosen as a candidate in the consultation of the Historical Pact with 2.7 million votes. The candidate considered his victory as a defeat for President Iván Duque, whose government will end on August 7 and is already in the final stretch with very low popularity. “The political parties allied to the Government of Duque, his political project, has been defeated in Colombia,” Petro said and assured that with the results of this Sunday “a period ends, an era ends.” DEFINITION POSTPONED THREE WEEKS Given the results this Sunday, Petro will not have an easy time in the second round on June 19 because, according to different analysts, his candidacy, which gathered the support of traditional politicians from other parties, such as senators Roy Barreras and Armando Benedetti, his campaign’s bishops, has little room to grow, unlike Rodolfo’s. Engineer Hernández, who campaigned without alliances or large investments in propaganda, transmitting his message by word of mouth among neighbors and through social networks, in which he is very active despite his 77 years, seems to have more radio of action to add new voters like those who supported him today and who say they are tired of corruption. In fact, “Fico” Gutiérrez, in a brief statement in which he accepted his defeat, announced that both he and his running mate, Rodrigo Lara Sánchez, will support Hernández in the second round because, as he said: “we are not going to put The future of Colombia, our families and our children is at risk”. That announcement, although it is in a personal capacity, can be read as an invitation to right-wing voters to support Hernández, a businessman who made his fortune with civil construction and who is difficult to place on an ideological edge because his speech is full of of bawdy phrases against corruption and against traditional politics. “Corruption is not fought with TikTok phrases,” Petro criticized him tonight in his speech, referring to Hernández’s electoral tactic of transmitting his messages to his followers through social networks. Hernández, for his part, true to his irreverence and self-confidence, read a statement from the kitchen of his home in Bucaramanga, the capital of the department of Santander, where he is from, and the city of which he was mayor between 2016 and 2019, in the who said that “it will be the people who will build victory in the second round”. “Today the country lost to politicking, to corruption, they lost the gangs that believed they would be the government forever, today citizenship won, today Colombia won,” Hernández celebrated. Starting tomorrow, another presidential race begins in which both Petro and Hernández will have three weeks to expand their electorate to achieve an unprecedented victory in Colombia, which has never had a leftist or a populist in power. Jaime Ortega Carrascal (c) Agencia EFE



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