BOGOTÁ ( Associated Press) – Colombia has elected a leftist as its next president for the first time, but the narrow victory is a sign that a large part of the country rejects Gustavo Petro’s ambitious proposals, which need to heed those concerns and negotiate with a divided Congress to be able to govern, and even more so to deliver on its promises.
Petro, in his third attempt to win the presidency, defeated another anti-system candidate by three percentage points on Sunday: real estate tycoon Rodolfo Hernández, in a second round of elections that became a rebuke to center and right-wing politics. Be strong. Long live in the South American nation.
But the former rebel faces an uphill battle to bring about the changes his supporters want to see, at a time when the country grapples with rising inequality, inflation and violence.
“Petro has created a lot of expectations with its proposals, and when he delivered his victory speech, he exceeded those expectations,” said Sylvana Amaya, analyst at Firm Control Risk.
“Therefore, there is a lot of room for despair if it does not meet the expectations that people, especially the younger population have at the moment, as they are expecting life to be completely different with all these social reforms that He is proposing.”, he added.
Petro has proposed reforms in pensions, taxes, public health and agriculture, and changes in the way Colombia fights drug cartels and other armed groups. But his coalition holds about 15% of the seats in Congress, which would force him to reach agreements, halt some reforms and even repeal others.
Amaya said a negotiated and reduced version of the tax reform proposed by Petro to increase revenue could be approved by Congress, as its absence could put the government’s finances into question. But other plans are likely to stall, he said.
Petro wants tax reform to finance social programs, such as free higher education and subsidies for mothers who are heading families.
Pointing to resistance, Petro addressed the other half of Colombia during his victory speech, which did not vote for him, and proposed a “Great National Accord” involving his staunch opponents to achieve consensus.
“The fact that this platform propelled them to victory demonstrates that the majority of Colombians believe the state should be given access to social services such as health, social security and education,” he said in a statement. Provision should play a bigger role.” Fraga is an analyst with the Economist Intelligence Unit, a research group affiliated with The Economist magazine.
But “if he does not show a willingness to compromise and moderate some of his radical proposals, his ability to deliver on his promises will be undermined, causing his popularity to plummet and the risk of social unrest.”
Petro’s was the most recent political victory for the Left in Latin America, driven by the voters’ desire for change. Chile, Peru and Honduras all elected left-wing presidents in 2021, and in Brazil, former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva voted with intent to vote for this year’s presidential elections.
The 62-year-old will be officially declared the winner after a formal calculation that will take a few days. Historically, preliminary results have coincided with definite results.
Of the 39 million eligible voters, about 21.6 million voted on Sunday. Abstinence has been more than 40% of all presidential elections since 1990.
President Ivan Duque could not opt for re-election.
Pre-runoff polls indicated that Petro and Hernandez – both former mayors – were in a tight race since defeating four other candidates in the first round on 29 May. Neither of them got enough votes to win outright and went on to the second round.
Petro’s victory in Latin America’s third most populous country was far greater than Hernandez’s defeat. It also ended a longstanding stigma left by Colombians for their alleged links to the armed conflict that lasted five decades until 2016, with the signing of a peace deal with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia. Petro was a member of the once-vanished M-19 movement and was imprisoned for his ties with the group, which signed a peace deal in 1991.
Sunday’s results also made Colombia the first black female vice president. Petro’s running mate, 40-year-old Francia Marquez, is a lawyer and environmental leader whose opposition to illegal mining led her to threats and a grenade attack in 2019.
Although his election is historic, some see him as a potential stumbling block for Petro because of his reluctance to make concessions to traditional parties.