Friday, February 3

Colombia holds the most tense elections with the leftist Petro as the favorite


  • The polls suggest that a second round will be necessary in two weeks

Some 39 million Colombians are called this Sunday to elect their new President and it is quite possible that they will go to the polls again on 19th of June to find out who will govern them from the first week of August. Only a political miracle or a hidden vote that the pollsters failed to detect would prevent the second round of Gustavo Petro, the candidate on the left, with a voting intention of 40%. “To win you only have to convince one person and I assure you that we will be able to celebrate,” the coalition standard-bearer asked before the electoral ban Historical Pactwho shares his formula with the charismatic France Helena Marquez Minaa feminist lawyer who stood out in environmental struggles.

The common sense of analysts is far from being infallible in a country subjected to so many upheavals, from simple murder to the remnant of a 1960s guerrilla group, the ELN, through the drug trafficking, with strength capable of defying the State. But until the facts prove it, most observers don’t expect to hear victory songs this Sunday night.

This certainty brings with it a series of concerns: if the road to the elections was not without tensions, fake news (they invented a hidden daughter for Márquez Mina) and even suspicions of a lack of transparency due to the lack of an external audit of the scrutiny, a probable ballotage or second round It will only increase the anxiety. The degree of nervousness will be partly determined by the name of Petro’s rival. Although the polls in principle assign that place in the definition to the rightist Federico Fico Gutierrez (21% of accessions), the increase in preferences for Rodolfo Hernández, a kind of Donald Trump Colombian, opens a question mark on the outcome.

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It was not by chance that Petro and Hernández received the most critical remarks from the heart of power on the eve of the contest. President Ivan Duke He called on citizens not to be tempted by “demagogic illusions that in many parts of the world have become that kind of rust that wants to eat away at democratic institutions.” Hernández, a tycoon and former mayor of Bucaramanga, was sentenced a few hours before the elections to pay a millionaire sum in a defamation case and even He has been threatened with jail for five days. “They no longer know what to do to stop me. You can see the fear of change that they will never be able to stop,” he said.

The center at its crossroads

Andrés Parra, portal columnist the empty chair considered that the sudden promotion of Hernández could represent this Sunday “the official death certificate of the center” that Sergio Fajardo, fourth in the polls, is trying to embody. Gutiérrez, meanwhile, has been trapped between two anti-system currents of different legitimacy: its conservative discourse, with a defense of family values ​​and religious tradition, the free market and a security policy that shows horrifying numbers (223 massacres between 2020 and 202 and some 850 social leaders assassinated under the current Government) do not completely guarantee your ticket to the second shift. If you agree you will have to expand the anti-petro front and dispel fears that it is just another version of Uribeism without Alvaro Uribe.

Never before has the left been so close to electoral victory. This proximity has been favored by the still persistent echoes of the social outbreaks of 2019 and 2021. A year ago, the protest was at its highest point of combustion. “The struggles against systematic impoverishment, state violence and the ruin of the most vulnerable communities have led citizens to mobilize in public space. Against all odds, they have taken to the streets to find new air and build a more just and egalitarian country,” recalled the NGO Temblores. The 90 days that shook Colombia also left 83 dead in 12,288 demonstrations.

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Nowadays, almost 70% of citizens reject the figure of the president for mixed reasons. Duque usually claims, however, his management of the pandemic (70% complete vaccination) and the growth of the economy (10.6% in 2021 and an improvement of four points this year). He will leave the presidency with 39.3% of the poor (20 million people) and turning his back in various aspects on the peace agreement that his predecessor Juan Manuel Santos signed with the FARC. This year alone, 21 former guerrillas who turned in their weapons were killed.

On those rubble has advanced Petro. Both he and his rivals have painted a country of prosperity and redemption if elected. “Unfortunately, the problem of not knowing how the wonders they promise us will be paid for, or what efforts will be needed to keep the disasters they promise us at bay, goes beyond the arithmetic skills of the candidates,” said Luis Carlos Reyes, columnist for the Bogotá newspaper The viewer.


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