Colombia votes for a new rupture president
Colombia votes on Sunday to choose its new president between the leftist opponent Gustavo Petro or the independent businessman Rodolfo Hernandez, two candidates who promise, each in their own way, a “new path” for a country in crisis.
“We are going to elect a good president different from those before”: like Marcos Bermont, a retiree voting in Bogota, Colombian voters went to the polls in large numbers on Sunday morning, once again expressing their thirst for change, said found AFP.
Presidential of “break”, “historic day”, “great change” announced for an election “at the end”, summarized the national press, while the last published polls gave the two candidates almost equal at the end of a campaign with an execrable atmosphere.
The vote will end at 4:00 p.m. (9:00 p.m. GMT), with the results expected in the evening, communicated by the National Register, in charge of organizing the ballot.
– “Monitoring fraud” –
In the center of Bogota, many people were present from the early morning to vote, as at the Marco Antonio Carreno college, under the supervision of a dozen police officers, and where operations were taking place normally.
“I want a change. Maybe we won’t have a messiah, but it’s better to come and vote,” comments Maria Diaz, a 42-year-old administrator.
“I came to vote to change things. I don’t think whoever wins today will be good, but it will still be a change,” judge Valentina Rios, 19.
The hypothesis of a too tight result has worried in recent days, raising fears of possible overflows, as well as accusations of fraud, while Mr. Petro expressed his doubts about the software used for the count after errors against him in the legislative elections in March.
“The polls put us far ahead of the other candidate, (…) All that remains is to watch out for fraud,” the left-wing senator said again on Sunday morning via Twitter.
“In a democracy, only the ballot counts. Do not insist on creating an atmosphere of fraud based on gossip”, retorted Mr. Hernandez, who voted in the early morning, all smiles and dressed in his usual sleeved polo shirt long, in his stronghold of Bucaramanga (north).
Sunday evening, Gustavo Petro, ex-guerrilla converted to social democracy and former mayor of Bogota could become Colombia’s first left-wing president.
Or the direction of the country could be entrusted to the unclassifiable millionaire Rodolfo Hernandez, ex-mayor of a large northern city, qualified surprise who put the right out of the race in the first round by promising to finish with the “thieves ” and “bureaucracy”.
Mr. Petro, 62, came out on top in the first round on May 29, with 40% to 28% for Mr. Hernandez, 77, and a 55% turnout. Between them, they defeated the conservative and liberal elites who have monopolized power for two centuries.
The real estate magnate, however, immediately received support from the traditional right and its tutelary figure, ex-president Alvaro Uribe (2002-2010).
– “Always forward” –
These last three weeks of the “trash” campaign -according to the expression of the press- have been marked by invectives, accusations of all kinds, misinformation, espionage… with a race for shallots on both sides to show themselves the closer to people, via social networks.
“Always forward, not a step back! (…) It is time to elect a man in your image who simply wants to end corruption and move Colombia forward”, commented Mr. Hernandez on Twitter Sunday morning, promising, according to its formula, “not to steal, not to lie, not to betray”.
“Do we want to continue to retreat, follow the path of the past, or move forward together?” Pleaded Petro, in a final address broadcast Saturday on the networks. “It’s not about Petro or Hernandez, it’s about choosing real, real change for life. The choice is in your hands.”
The election is taking place in a context of deep crisis, following the pandemic, a severe recession, harshly suppressed anti-government protests, and an increase in violence by armed groups plaguing the countryside.
Despite the thirst for change, the two candidates worry. Apart from a few emblematic measures, Hernandez has remained vague about his program, and has almost no representative in Congress, which questions his ability to govern. Petro still arouses the rejection of part of the electorate, which associates him with the old Latin American extreme left, with the Marxist guerrillas active in the country. It also worries entrepreneurs and certain economic sectors.
“Colombia today chooses a new path with two candidates with diametrically opposed trajectories”, but who both “tend to populism”, pointed out the newspaper El Espectador. This while “the most urgent task” of the winner “will be to reunify” a particularly polarized country, underlined the other major daily El Tiempo.