Colombians are heading to the polls today to elect their new president, with an opposition favorite, Gustavo Petro, who could become the first left-wing president in the country’s modern history.
Nearly 39 million voters are expected in 12,000 constituencies, where they will be called upon to choose among six candidates to replace the not-so-popular outgoing Conservative President Ivan Duke, who is unable to run again.
The elections are taking place in a climate of lively political tensions, after four years without fundamental reforms, marked by a pandemic, a major recession, mass demonstrations in cities and the escalation of violence in the countryside by armed groups.
First in the polls is left-wing senator Gustavo Petro, a former Social Democrat rebel, economist and former mayor of Bogota, who managed to capitalize on his thirst for “change”, which he embodied in his campaign.
“Finally there are two options,” Petros said during the last debate on Friday. “Whether we live in what we have: corruption, violence and hunger. Or we change to move towards peace, productive progress and a transparent democracy,” he promised, urging his fellow citizens to unite “for life.” another central slogan of his campaign.
This is the third time that 62-year-old Petros is running in the presidential election and for many of the members of the “Historic Pact” coalition – which came first in the parliamentary elections last March – it is “now or never”. With him, the Afro-Colombian Frances Marquez, who has always been a militant feminist and anti-racist, has already emerged as one of the phenomena of this presidential election.
Opposite them is the conservative candidate Federico Gutierrez, the former mayor of Medellin, who wants to become a defender of the “ordinary” Colombians, to whom he promises “order and security”.
The polls will be open from 08.00 to 16.00 local time. A second round is scheduled for June 19 in the event that – most likely according to the press – Petros does not get more than 50%.