When the world gets closer.

We help you see farther.

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter.

Geopolitics

Showdown Of Populists From Left And Right Looms In Colombia Presidential Runoff

Colombians spurned the establishment candidates in the first round of presidential voting. In the second round, on June 19, they will have to choose between Gustavo Petro, a former Marxist guerrilla, and Rodolfo Hernández a "tough-talking" businessman being compared to Donald Trump.

Photo of people holding a presidential election ballot in Bogota, Colombia

Electoral jury hands out presidential election ballots during the 2022 presidential elections in Bogota, Colombia

El Espectador

-Editorial-

BOGOTÁ — Colombians went out on May 29 to make themselves heard. Early figures showed participation was higher than the first round of presidential elections in 2018, and what we saw was a motivated citizen body actively taking part in the elections to make an impact. It was a relief that — after years of social tensions — Colombians found in voting an eloquent language with which to express themselves.


The National Civil Registry also worked impeccably to dispel the unfounded fears of electoral fraud, after facing criticisms for months.

The chief loser of the election was President Iván Duque, whose electoral interventions were brazen, followed by the political parties and clans that have dominated Colombian politics in past decades.

Rejecting the establishment

The conservative current led by former president Álvaro Uribe, which effectively chose our presidents for the past 20 years except for Juan Manuel Santos's (2014) reelection, also lost. Federico Gutiérrez was clearly the continuity candidate, and President Duque intervened in his favor, which we criticized several times.

Gutiérrez had the support of the political establishment: the Democratic Center (Uribe's party), the Conservatives and the Liberals, the (center-right) U party, the Team Colombia (Equipo por Colombia) coalition (of which Gutiérrez was a co-founder), and powerful, regional clans. His defeat was both surprising and decisive, and showed Colombians have had enough of the same political names and brands. This makes the election a time for profound reflections.

Supporter of PeA supporter of left-wing candidate Gustavo Petro holds a campaign poster during the elections on May 29, 2022tro

Gustavo Petro supporter on May 29

Sebastian Maya/LongVisual/ZUMA

Defend democracy

Both the socialist Gustavo Petro and independent businessman Rodolfo Hernández, who will be competing in a second round — situated at opposite ends politically — represent a rejection of the political establishment.

Petro has devoted his political career to presenting himself as the opposite of the ideas defended by Uribe and his successor, Duque, who beat him to the presidency four years ago.

Hernández, while closer to the conservative currents that have been ruling the country, campaigned denouncing a political class he dubbed "corrupt" when he wasn't using uglier words. Between them they won almost 69% of all votes cast in the first round, which would have been unthinkable some years back.

Echoes Of Trump and Bolsonaro 

Yet the change voters want must be constructed and implemented, and questions arise when a populist will be the executor of that change.

Colombians would do well to demand campaigns that clearly defend the country's democratic institutions.

Both candidates adopted a populist discourse, even displaying authoritarian traits, though Hernández was ahead of Petro in that sense. His campaign was built on a simplistic but aggressive discourse that spoke of "them," of "bad folk" against us "good folk." His political strategy has been rightly compared to those of presidents Donald J. Trump and Jair Bolsonaro.

In the second round of voting, Colombians would do well to demand campaigns that clearly defend the country's democratic institutions. Because it is through those institutions that the nation's hopes for change, expressed in the first round of voting, can come to fruition without turning into enormous frustration, with unpredictable consequences.

You've reached your monthly limit of free articles.
To read the full article, please subscribe.
Get unlimited access. Support Worldcrunch's unique mission:
  • Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.
  • Stories from the best international journalists.
  • Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries
Already a subscriber? Log in

When the world gets closer, we help you see farther

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter!

Ukrainian President Zelensky Trilateral Meeting with Turkish President Erdogan and UN Secretary General Guterres

Cameron Manley, Bertrand Hauger, Chloe Touchard, Lisa Berdet, and Emma Albright

With fears of a disaster at the Zaporizhzhia power plant on the world’s mind, three men met on Thursday in Lviv, to discuss nuclear security in the context of the Russian invasion of Ukraine: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres — and once again vowing to play a part in finding a solution to the conflict, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Stay up-to-date with the latest on the Russia-Ukraine war, with our exclusive international coverage.

Sign up to our free daily newsletter.

Since the start of the war, Turkey has offered its services as a mediator between Ukraine and Russia. During the trilateral meeting, Erdogan voiced his concern about Zaporizhzhia, saying it was imperative that a repeat of the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster be avoided.

The Turkish president emphasized that he would like to organize peace talks between Russia and Ukraine, adding that he is planning on addressing the situation at the nuclear plant with Russian President Vladimir Putin. "We will discuss this issue with Putin and ask him specifically for Russia to do what it must as an important step for world peace," Erdogan said. Zelensky responded that the only way he would agree to negotiate with the Kremlin was if Russian troops left Ukraine.

Keep reading...Show less

When the world gets closer, we help you see farther

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter!
You've reached your monthly limit of free articles.
To read the full article, please subscribe.
Get unlimited access. Support Worldcrunch's unique mission:
  • Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.
  • Stories from the best international journalists.
  • Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries
Already a subscriber? Log in
Writing contest - My pandemic story
THE LATEST
FOCUS
TRENDING TOPICS

Central to the tragic absurdity of this war is the question of language. Vladimir Putin has repeated that protecting ethnic Russians and the Russian-speaking populations of Ukraine was a driving motivation for his invasion.

Yet one month on, a quick look at the map shows that many of the worst-hit cities are those where Russian is the predominant language: Kharkiv, Odesa, Kherson.

Watch VideoShow less
MOST READ