Turning pink again

Petro’s victory heralds battle over reforms in Colombia

As this issue went to press leftist Gustavo Petro won the second round of Colombia’s presidential race with 50.55% of the vote, against right-wing anti-corruption candidate Rodolfo Hernández, who received the backing of 47.3% of the voters. The vote is considered a watershed for various reasons. One is that for the first time in more than a generation Colombia’s second-round presidential contest was a battle between two anti-establishment candidates. A late surge for Hernández pushed out Federico ‘Fico’ Gutierréz. It is likely that this reflects deep-seated demands for change, in line with the impact of the pandemic and the surge of street protests over poverty and inequality in 2021. Another indicator of change is that Petro becomes the first-ever elected socialist president in Colombian history. Because of the country’s decades long experience of violent Marxist guerrilla movements, and the perceived threat from socialist Venezuela, the electorate has long been wary of voting for a socialist. Again, the fact that it finally did so in 2022 indicates the strength of underlying pressures for change.

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