Colombians decide this Sunday, 19, the new president of the country; experts warn that the winner will have a lot of work ahead, especially in the social and economic part
The Colombians decide this Sunday, 19, the new president of the country. On the one hand, the leftist Gustavo Petro promises economic improvements. On the other hand, the populist Rodolfo Hernández, who does not consider himself a politician, assures that he will end the dissatisfaction with the class, which has been present in the Colombia. According to experts, these are the two main problems and the reasons why candidates from the traditional right, quite popular in the recent past, did not make it to the second round. “Each one of them gathers, in a general way, a dissatisfaction”, points out the professor of international relations at PUC, Arthur Murta.
In the polls published on June 13th, Petro and Hernández appear tied. Colombian analysts are already considering that the election could be decided by a difference of 300,000 votes if the numbers remain as they are. Despite the different positions, the candidates have in common the desire for change. Even with the election divided between the left and the right, experts explain that Colombia goes beyond the barrier of polarization.
Rise of Rodolfo Hernadez
The desire for a president who fulfills his promises – since the current one, Iván Duque Márquez, is totally discredited – makes the dispute even more fierce. According to polls, Petro’s advantage in the first round has already been pulverized. In some of them, Hernandez, discredited for most of the electoral race, is said to have won. The anti-system businessman turned the tables with his combative speech and arrived strong to win the election. “He managed to communicate with the population as this candidate who fights the powerful, who is outside politics”, points out Murta. Eduardo Fayet, professor of international and governmental relations at Mackenzie, explains that the decrease in the structure of the traditional political system gives advantages to those who present themselves as new, which made the population look for a candidate who “will bring the solution to their problems”. .
For Tomaz Paoliello, professor of international relations at PUC, this phenomenon of the discredited candidate, who apparently appears out of nowhere and defends himself in this way, has already become a primer. The most classic example is Donald Trump, former president of the United States. It is worth remembering that Hernández is constantly compared to the American, a businessman like him. Ricardo Leães, professor of international relations at ESPM, recalls that the Colombian “outsider” did not participate in campaigns in virtual terms and used TikTok a lot.
OExperts cite that Hernández’s government plan is unclear. But, somehow, “he managed to garner a good part of the votes from the sectors that already voted for the right”, highlights Leães. Despite considering himself a right-wing candidate, the businessman defends agendas such as drug liberation and abortion. In addition, he promised to re-establish diplomatic relations with Venezuela and recognize Nicolas Maduro as its president. For the professor, this “would end up producing a very significant change in terms of international relations”. “We can expect some surprises that end up impacting the other countries in the region.”
In the account command. Here are 20 differences I have with Uribismo:
1.In my government, I will reactivate the countryside, leaving behind the neoliberal policies and the violence that left us behind, ended up with food self-sufficiency and forced people to leave
— Ing Rodolfo Hernandez 🇨🇴! (@ingrodolfohdez) May 31, 2022
Left in power for the first time
An unprecedented achievement is being sought in this election: the arrival of the left to power. Colombia has elected candidates with progressive ideas in the past, but never one linked to social movements and of popular origin like Gustavo Petro. This is the third time he has run for president, and the last time he came in second. If he wins this year, he will achieve something never seen before. “If the left goes to power, it will be an interesting turn to see how business sectors will behave”, observes Arthur Murta. However, when it comes to Petro’s victory, there is a division of thought among experts. For Ricardo Leães, it is necessary to wait and see “if the result will be well accepted or if it will be contested”. He recalls that Colombia has a history of “murdering leftist candidates” and that, during the first round, Petro “needed to wear bulletproof vests and walk safely due to the dangerous scenario”.
There is concern about how the paramilitary groups will behave, as one of the Petro government’s plans is to fight them — and non-state armed forces as well. “If he wins the election, there could be a kind of third round”, warns Leães. Arthur Murta believes that the former guerrilla will be able to assume power, despite the possibility of demonstrations. “The left has already managed to have a majority in Congress”, recalls the professor. “The scenario we have now is the left showing a sign of progress since 2021. The right who may have more difficulty in governing is”, he adds. Eduardo Fayet also argues that Petro will take over if elected. What can happen, as time passes, is greater political instability in Colombia “whether or not he manages to increase some relatively quick and effective actions”.
The winner’s challenges
Regardless of who wins the election on Sunday, the challenges will be great in the years ahead. “Colombia is going through a political, social and economic crisis”, explains Murta, pointing out that the country is facing a process of economic slowdown and has a high rate of unemployment and poverty. “The new president needs to think: what is the place of international insertion of the economy of Colombia today?” Edward agrees. For him, the elected will need to generate income and employment for the population to be able to invest “in a reasonable structural change”.
The second challenge is related to the social part, aggravated by the Covid-19 pandemic and the increase in the inequality index. “Colombia’s social and political fabric is also broken. The next president will need to sew”, predicts Murta. A third point that will need to be worked on is the issue of peace, an important issue in this country. “Any Colombian president has the challenge of putting an end to a conflict that has lasted many, many decades”, explains Ricardo Leães. For him, it is urgent for Colombia to get the paramilitary and guerrilla groups to lay down their weapons and for the country to achieve “a certain normality”.
The professor also talks about the need for the government to regain control over the entire territory, so that there is no longer “risk that insurgent groups play a greater role than they should”. Eduardo adds that we can consider this challenge as a “social stability” and that it must be unfolded in three important factors: agreement with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), not generating a popular reaction in the sense of contesting the presidential decisions and combat police violence. “These three aspects together is a way to improve the maturity of Colombian democracy, which is still young.”