Left-wing opponent Gustavo Petro emerged as the big winner in Colombia’s parliamentary elections on Sunday, March 13. At the end of a day of peaceful voting and “transparency”According to the electoral authority, the left-wing coalition of the Historic Pact won 17 of the 102 seats in the Senate, ahead of all other traditional formations, according to partial official results published in the evening.
In the House of Representatives, the left-wing coalition won 25 of the 165 seats in parliament, second behind the Liberal Party (32), but neck and neck with the Conservatives and with the highest number of votes, according to the same results.
“The historic pact has achieved the best results of progressivism in the history of the Republic of Colombia”welcomed its leader, Gustavo Petro, in the evening. “We are about to win the presidency in the first round”he assured, to the cheers of his supporters.
The Democratic Center, the right-wing party of outgoing President Ivan Duque, which had won the largest number of votes in the Senate in the last parliamentary election in 2018, suffered a serious setback, this time coming fifth and fourth in the Chamber of Deputies. .
A breathless right
Nearly 39 million voters were called on for four years to renew the 296 members of the Senate and the lower house, an outgoing parliament controlled by a breathless right-wing power, traditional stronghold of regional baronies with a significantly tarnished image by corruption cases. They also had the chance to participate in the main party primaries to choose the May 29 presidential candidates, in which the outgoing president, conservative Ivan Duque, can no longer stand.
It was a matter of nominating, at will, the candidate from one of three coalitions of center right, center left or left.
These primaries, sometimes described as the first round for their time, effectively monopolized most of the debate in the campaign. And as expected, Gustavo Petro, who has led all polls in recent months, won with about 80.50% of the vote. He was ahead of Afro-Colombian Francia Marquez, who achieved a remarkable result (15%) and with her feminist, environmentalist and anti-racist speech, many commentators believe that this election was the revelation.
Ex-guerrillas converted to “progressivism” Social Democrat Petro will face the former mayor of Medellin Federico Gutierrez, who will represent the center-right coalition (Team for Colombia), and the former governor of the powerful department of Antoquia Sergio Fajardo, for the center-right coalition, on May 29. left-wing coalition Center Esperance.
Other candidates are already in the running, including Oscar Zuluaga, for the Democratic Center, which has failed to take off in voting intentions, independent Rodolfo Hernandez, and former French-Colombian hostage Ingrid Betancourt. All three have abstained from participating in the primaries and are running under the banner of their own party.
The first round of presidential elections starts tomorrowwarned mr. Petro, very promising “defending a program in favor of life” and “to change Colombia”† In a Latin American country historically ruled by the right, his takeover would be a political earthquake.
For his part, Mr Gutierrez, one of Mr Petro’s fiercest opponents, called for… “the protection of our democracy and the protection of our freedoms” vs “populism”while Mr Fajardo took up the slogan of the struggle: “against corruption”a theme that was supported by almost all candidates.
Another indication that the left has the wind in its sails, nearly 50% of voters in the primaries chose to speak for the Historic Pact at the expense of the other two coalitions. As Colombia came to its knees economically out of the pandemic and shocked by the crackdown on mass protests against power in the spring of 2021, analysts widely anticipated this sanctions vote.
If the increase in violence by armed groups in the provinces is a major concern, the decline in purchasing power or urban insecurity during the campaign seemed more of a concern, with Colombians invariably expressing their fatigue from traditional parties.