Gustavo Petro became, Sunday, June 19, the first left-wing president in the history of Colombia, with 50.47% of the vote, according to official results covering 99.7% of the ballots counted. “Today is a day of celebration for the people. Let him celebrate the first popular victory, ”celebrated the senator and ex-guerrilla on Twitter. His opponent, the millionaire Rodolfo Hernandez, won 47.27% of the vote, a difference of nearly 700,000 votes, indicate these results published by the National Register, in charge of organizing the ballot.
“Today, the majority of citizens have chosen the other candidate. […] I accept the result as it is, ”said Rodolfo Hernandez shortly after, in a live on Facebook from his home. “I wish the Dr Gustavo Petro that he knows how to run the country and that he is faithful to his speech against corruption. Thank you very much to all Colombians for accepting my proposal, even though we lost,” he concluded with a defeated face.
“I called Petro Gustavo to congratulate him as the elected president of the Colombian people”, also announced on Twitter the outgoing conservative president, Ivan Duque. “We have agreed to meet in the coming days to begin a smooth, institutional and transparent transition,” he promised.
An Afro-descendant as vice-president
With the victory of Gustavo Petro, an Afro-descendant becomes vice-president of the country for the first time: the charismatic Francia Marquez, 40, a modest villager who has become an environmental activist, and who played a big role in the campaign as the candidate’s running mate. The announcement of these results provoked jubilation in the large auditorium in the center of Bogota where Petro’s campaign team organized its election evening with music and entertainment.
“We are finally going to have change,” welcomed Lusimar Asprilla, 25. “It’s something the whole country has been waiting for. “This is the change to which all the Colombian people have aspired for more than a hundred years,” exulted Edgar Sarmiento, a 72-year-old retiree.
This presidential election has consecrated the deep thirst for change of Colombians, and sweeps away the conservative and liberal elites in power for two centuries in the fourth economic power of Latin America. The two qualified in the first round had come out on top with a disruptive and “anti-establishment” speech, with 40% of the votes Gustavo Petro (40%) carried a “progressive” and social speech, in favor of “life” and against poverty, while his opponent (28% of the vote, in the first round) promised to put an end to corruption, an endemic disease of the country.
A sometimes violent campaign
The fight was particularly bitter between the two men, with a campaign made up of accusations of all kinds, misinformation and other low blows. The latest polls released a week ago gave the two men a near tie, as the traditional right, in disarray, immediately called for a vote in favor of the real estate magnate. As during the first round, no major incident disturbed this second round, monitored by a cohort of observers and international missions.
The European Union (EU), which had a mission there, congratulated Gustavo Petro through the voice of its High Representative for Foreign Affairs, Josep Borrell, for his “election as the next president of Colombia”. The hypothesis of a result that is too tight has caused concern in recent days, when the Petro camp had expressed doubts about the reliability of the electoral process, and of the counting software in particular.
This election took place in a context of deep crisis in the country, after the pandemic, a severe recession, harshly repressed anti-government demonstrations, and an increase in violence by armed groups in the countryside. In a divided country, which emerged even more polarized from this presidential election, all analysts insist on the immense task that awaits the new president to recompose a fractured society.