Colombia’s presidential election appears destined for a runoff, after preliminary results on Sunday showed no candidate had garnered more than 50% of the vote.
With 98% of the votes counted, the first results showed that the left-wing candidate Gustavo Petro with just over 40% of the vote, the populist former mayor of Bucaramanga Rodolfo Hernandez with 28% and the right-wing candidate Federico “Fico” Gutierrez with 23%.
Petro and Hernandez are now set to face each other in a runoff on June 19.
Polling stations closed late Sunday without any major reports of violence or unrest.
“We have one of the oldest democracies in this hemisphere. We have one of the strongest democracies and it is getting strong because every four years we have an orderly transition,” outgoing President Ivan Duque said Sunday.
The vote took place during one of the most turbulent times in Colombia’s modern history, with the country plagued by the economic fallout from the Covid-19 pandemic, social unrest and a deteriorating security situation. .
Duque’s approval rating is currently at an all-time low, with his tenure marred by his administration’s handling of police conduct, inequality and clashes between organized crime groups.
Popular discontent has put the left in sight of the presidency for the first time in the country’s history. Still, the preliminary results represent a setback for Petro, 62, a former guerrilla fighter and mayor of Bogota, who was widely seen as one of the leading candidates.
If elected next month, Petro would become Colombia’s first left-wing leader; his running mate Francia Marquez would also become the first Afro-Colombian to hold executive powers. Petro has proposed a radical overhaul of the country’s economy to tackle one of the highest rates of inequality in the world.
Meanwhile, Hernandez, 77, appealed to centrist voters with a unique social media campaign. The self-proclaimed ‘King of TikTok’ has refused to take part in several TV debates and given few interviews to foreign media – although he appeared on CNN, dressed in his pajamas, claiming he was a ‘man of the world’. people”.