(AP Picture/Fernando Vergara)
Gustavo Petro, a former guerrilla fighter, obtained 40.34 per cent of the vote within the first spherical of Colombian elections on Could 29.
(AP Picture/Mauricio Pinzon)
He’ll face Rodolfo Hernández, a businessman-turned-politician who received 28.17 per cent of the vote to complete in second place, within the remaining spherical on June 19.
These outcomes are placing for 3 causes.
First, if Petro prevails, will probably be the primary time a left-wing candidate has develop into president in a rustic historically ruled by right-wing, elitist events.
Second, each candidates ran on platforms vital of the political institution.
Third, Uribismo, the dominant right-wing political motion shaped round former president Álvaro Uribe, won’t have a candidate within the decisive spherical of elections for the primary time in 20 years.
Insurgent turned politician
A former member of the M-19 leftist guerrilla group, Petro began his political profession in 1991, simply after the group disarmed as a part of a peace course of.
Prior to now 30 years, he’s been a member of congress (from 2006 to 2010 and once more from 2018 to 2022), mayor of Bogotá (from 2012 to 2015) and three-time presidential candidate (in 2010, 2018 and 2022).
Born to a middle-class household in a small city within the Caribbean area of Colombia, he’s completely different from the so-called Andean elites which have historically dominated the nation. If elected, Petro guarantees, amongst different issues, to cease oil exploration, to supply free public larger training for all and to totally revamp the pension system to extend protection.
His proposals for radical change have made him well-liked with youthful and lower-income voters, a lot of whom participated in large protests in 2021 in opposition to the right-wing authorities of incumbent Iván Duque, who holds the bottom approval scores of any president within the nation’s current historical past.
(AP Picture/Fernando Vergara)
Petro’s detractors, however, decry his previous membership in a insurgent group and what they describe as his populist proposals. Critics argue that his tenure as mayor of Bogotá was mired in controversy and that he’ll attempt to perpetuate that model of governance if president.
Resistance to Petro’s success, nevertheless, needs to be understood inside the historic context of the elitist right-wing dominance of Colombia and the exclusion of left-wing alternate options.
Colombia’s concern of the left
Colombia has been touted prior to now for example of democratic stability in South America. The one army dictatorship the nation suffered in its current historical past (1953–57) was short-lived and comparatively benign in comparison with the extra repressive regimes of different South American nations.
In contrast to many of the continent’s nations, populist leaders haven’t obtained energy
in Colombia. Additionally, whereas the vast majority of the area turned left within the early 2000s, Colombians elected Álvaro Uribe, a neoconservative chief who prioritized the market and the militarization of safety.
This obvious political stability has not come with out a worth. Elitist events — each liberal and conservative events — monopolized energy all through the twentieth century and thwarted the rise of left-wing events and dissident actions.
The front-runner for the presidential elections within the late Forties, populist chief Jorge Eliécer Gaitán, was assassinated in 1948, giving strategy to a darkish interval often known as “La Violencia” that resulted within the massacres of 1000’s of individuals. Later, the systematic killing of left-wing leaders, politicians and activists by right-wing paramilitaries and state brokers saved energy firmly within the arms of conventional elites.
(AP Picture/William Fernando Martinez)
In the course of the eight years that Uribe was president, 6,402 folks had been the victims of extrajudicial killings perpetrated by the military.
Uribe has been a dominant determine within the nation for the final 20 years.
He was president from 2002 to 2010; his defence minister and former ally was voted president in 2010; his chosen candidate, Iván Duque, received his presidential bid in 2018; and Uribe efficiently led the marketing campaign in opposition to the peace accord with the nation’s greatest guerrilla group — FARC — within the 2016 referendum.
The deal was in the end carried out regardless of the detrimental consequence, and Uribe is now more and more unpopular amongst Colombians. Institutional reforms and the 2016 peace accord have additionally invigorated the left.
After being portrayed for many years as the inner enemy, the left is lastly a critical contender for the workplace of president.
(AP Picture/Ivan Valencia, File)
Petro will face necessary challenges. First, dispersed anti-left political forces will now probably coalesce across the right-wing outsider Hernández, mounting a critical bid for the presidency.
Second, Petro’s occasion, Pacto Histórico, doesn’t maintain a majority in congress and, if elected president, he should set up shaky alliances with unlikely companions.
And whereas his guarantees for radical change have impressed many, heightened expectations would possibly shortly flip into disappointment or backlash, just like left-wing leaders Gabriel Boric in Chile and Pedro Castillo in Perú.
Nonetheless, the consolidation of the left as a reliable and viable electoral possibility in Colombia is necessary for the democracy of a rustic that has suffered a long time of politically motivated battle and excessive ranges of socioeconomic inequality.
These elections could be seen as an indication that the left-right divide in Colombia is shifting from armed confrontation to democratic disagreement.
Juan Manuel Morales at the moment does fieldwork with right-wing activists in Colombia for his dissertation.