Bogotá, Colombia — The political situation in Colombia has changed significantly in 24 hours.
For months, pollsters Gustavo PetroFormer rebel senators who bid to become the country’s first left-wing president will head for the June presidential election Federico GutierrezA conservative candidate who claimed that voting for Mr. Petro was equivalent to a “leap into the emptiness.”
Instead, on sundayVoters have given the top two to Petro and Rodolfo Hernandez, former mayors, populists and wealthy businessmen with anti-corruption platforms.
Voting for the left, who built a career to assassinate the conservative political class, and relatively unknown candidates without the support of formal parties, is a conservative organization that has ruled Colombia for generations. Expressed the denial of.
But it also recreated Mr. Petro’s political calculations. Now, it is Petro who is claiming himself as a safe change, and Hernandez as a dangerous leap into emptiness.
“There are changes that aren’t changes. They are suicides,” Petro said at a campaign event on Sunday night.
Mr. Hernandez once called himself Adolf Hitler’s followersProposes to consolidate major ministries to save money and states that as president he will declare a state of emergency to combat corruption. Lead to fear He was able to close Congress and suspend the mayor.
Still, Colombia’s right-wing government began to line up behind him, bringing in many of their votes, and Mr. Petro’s victory looks like an uphill.
On Sunday, Gutierrez, a former mayor of Medellín, the country’s second-largest city, said his intention was to “protect democracy,” throwing support behind Hernandez.
But political scientist Fernando Posada said the move was the last of its founding rights to thwart Petro, whose plans to rebuild the Colombian economy “endanger many of the interests of traditional politicians.” He said it was also an effort.
“Colombia’s rights have reached a very dire stage. Unless it’s Petro, we prefer a government that offers nothing,” Posada said.
Having received limited attention in most of the country just a few weeks ago, Hernandez was the former mayor of the medium-sized city of Bucaramanga in the northern part of the country. He built his fortune in the construction industry in the 1990s and built homes for low-income earners.
At the age of 77, Hernandez built a lot of support on TikTok. Hit once Camera and recent city council members Told the Washington Post He had a “savior” influence on his supporters and compared him to the “brainwashed” hijacker who destroyed the Twin Towers on 9/11.
Pressed to see if such a comparison was a problem, he rejected the idea. “What I’m comparing is that you don’t change your position after you get into that state. Don’t change.”
Only a few days ago, Colombia’s political story seemed simple. For generations, politics was dominated by a small number of wealthy families. Alvaro Uribe.
But voters’ frustration Poverty, inequality When anxietyIt seems to have shifted the dynamics with the growing acceptance of the left wing following the 2016 peace process with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), the largest group of rebels, exacerbated by the pandemic.
By 2022, Mr. Petro, who had long left the Colombian fighting side, thought it was his moment. And in the months leading up to the May 29 election, voters flocked to his proposal — widespread expansion of social programs, the suspension of all new oil drilling in countries that depend on oil exports, and Focus on social justice.
The storyline was left vs. right, change vs. continuation, the rest of the elite vs. country.
But Mr. Hernandez’s unlikely rise reflects the rejection of both the conservative elite and Mr. Petro.
It also reveals that the story wasn’t that simple.
Hernandez, who won 28% of the votes, attracted a wide range of voters aspiring to change that she couldn’t ride with Petro.
Petro Former member of the rebel group It was called the M-19 in a country where rebels have terrorized the population for decades. And he is the left of the country bordering Venezuela, A country in humanitarian crisis By an authoritarian who insists on the flag of the left wing.
Hernandez’s vague orange hair and businessman’s approach to politics captivated voters who wanted someone with Trumpian ambitions. (A few years after he said he was a follower of Adolf Hitler, Mr. Hernandez said he was Albert Einstein.. )
Two of the country’s biggest problems are poverty and lack of opportunity, and Hernandez appeals to those who say they can help them escape from both.
“I think he sees Colombia as a growth potential, and that’s how I think he’s different from other candidates,” said Medellín’s technical consultant Salvador Reso, 26. Told. “I think other candidates are looking at a burning house and want to put out the fire and reveal the house. Rodolfo’s view could be a huge hotel in the future. I think there is a house with
He was also a relentless critic of corruption, a chronic problem that some Colombians call cancer.
“Politicians shamelessly steal,” said Alvaro Mejia, 29, who runs a solar energy company in Cali.
He says he prefers Hernandez to long-time senator Petro just because he lacks political experience.
The question is whether Mr. Hernandez will be able to maintain his outsider status in the weeks leading up to the spill, as major politicians are in line with his campaign.
Just minutes after taking second place on Sunday, two strong right-wing senators, Maria Fernanda Cabal and Paloma Valencia, promised to support him, and Posada could be followed by others. I expected it to be high.
Uribe support Hernandez ran for mayor in 2015 with an increasingly controversial figure that has quit many Colombians. Posada predicted that he would not put weight behind Hernandez in order not to sacrifice voters.
If Mr. Hernandez can walk the difficult line — accepting the vote of the facility without damaging his image — it may be difficult for Mr. Petro to beat him.
Many political analysts 8.5 million votes Petro won his cap on Sunday, and much of Gutierrez’s 5 million votes will be added to the 6 million votes Hernandez received.
When the results became clear, Hernandez’s supporters rushed to the campaign headquarters in one of the main streets of the capital Bogotá.
Many wore bright yellow campaign T-shirts, hats and ponchos. According to Mr. Hernandez’s cost reduction principle, he bought it himself instead of distributing it for free in the campaign.
“I’ve never seen anyone with the characteristics of an engineer Rodolfo,” said 39-year-old lawyer Liliana Vargas, using the common name of civil engineer Hernandez. “He’s a politician, not a politician,” she said. “It’s the first time I’m completely excited to participate in a democratic election in my country.”
Nearby, Juan Sebastian Rodriguez, 39, the leader of Mr. Hernandez’s Bogotá campaign, called the candidate a “rock star.”
“He’s a phenomenon,” he said. “We are confident that we will win.”
Genevieve Glatzky contributed to the report from Bogotá.