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Colombia presidential election heads to a runoff

May 30, 2022

Colombians will have to choose between Gustavo Petro and Rodolfo Hernandez in a presidential contest in June after no candidates got 50% of the vote in the first round.

Colombian left-wing presidential candidate Gustavo Petro casts his vote at a polling station during the first round of the presidential election
Petro lost to current President Ivan Duque in the 2018 electionsImage: Santiago Arcos/REUTERS

Colombian leftist Gustavo Petro won the most votes in the country's presidential election on Sunday but not enough to avoid a runoff.

Petro will face a surprise contender, businessman Rodolfo Hernandez, in the second round in June.

"What's not in doubt today is change," Petro told cheering supporters in central Bogota. 

"Now it's about seeing what we will do with Colombia, what Colombian society wants for its own country."

Hernandez edged out Federico Gutierrez, who was number two in the polls before the vote and had the support of outgoing President Ivan Duque.

"Today we know citizens have a firm will to end corruption as a system of government," Hernandez said on social media. 

"The gangs who thought they would govern forever lost today," he added.

Petro, a senator, secured 40.4% of votes, national registry office tallies showed, while Hernandez won 27.9%. Petro needed 50% of the total votes to have avoided the runoff.

What do the candidates stand for?

Petro has vowed profound economic and social change in Colombia. He has plans to redistribute pensions, make public universities free, and tackle the country's inequality and poverty.

He has also said he will put a stop to new oil and gas projects.

A former member of the M-19 guerrilla movement, Petro has also promised to fully implement a 2016 peace deal with the FARC rebels and seek peace talks with the still-active ELN rebels.

Colombian independent presidential candidate Rodolfo Hernandez casts his vote at a polling station in Bucaramanga, Colombia
Hernandez's spot in the runoff contest came as a surpriseImage: Schneyder Mendoza/AFP/Getty Images

Hernandez, is running on a platform of anti-corruption promises. The 77-year-old is also under investigation for allegedly favoring a company his son had lobbied for.

The businessman has also pledged to strengthen law and order as well as create jobs, but he has shared scant details of those plans.

He rose in the polls only in the last two weeks, boosted by his colorful social media presence.

Hernandez has said he would explore peace talks with the ELN if elected and continue to fulfill the FARC deal.

Colombian presidential vote

lo/jsi (AFP, AP, Reuters)