Politics

Key Candidates, Issues in Colombia’s 2022 Presidential Election



Colombians head to the polls on Sunday to vote within the first around of a presidential election that might turn into Latin America. Colombia is the one main nation within the area that hasn’t ever elected a left-wing president, and in line with fresh polls, that’s more likely to trade. The front-runner is Gustavo Petro, a former left-wing guerrilla grew to become economist and flesh presser whose populist message is resonating with electorate bored with prime ranges of inequality.

Petro, 62, is not any newcomer to politics. He in the past served as a legislator in addition to mayor of Bogotá, Colombia’s capital, and has run for president two times prior to. Petro got here just about successful the closing election, in 2018, when he challenged present conservative President Iván Duque Márquez. The incumbent, who faces a one-term prohibit, now has a disapproval score of 75 p.c.

Petro has an actual likelihood at beating this 12 months’s conservative candidate, Federico “Fico” Gutiérrez. But his marketing campaign has additionally polarized a rustic that has suffered thru many years of Marxist-inspired battle. Petro’s upward push displays the huge instability Colombia has skilled over the previous few years.

Colombians head to the polls on Sunday to vote within the first around of a presidential election that might turn into Latin America. Colombia is the one main nation within the area that hasn’t ever elected a left-wing president, and in line with fresh polls, that’s more likely to trade. The front-runner is Gustavo Petro, a former left-wing guerrilla grew to become economist and flesh presser whose populist message is resonating with electorate bored with prime ranges of inequality.

Petro, 62, is not any newcomer to politics. He in the past served as a legislator in addition to mayor of Bogotá, Colombia’s capital, and has run for president two times prior to. Petro got here just about successful the closing election, in 2018, when he challenged present conservative President Iván Duque Márquez. The incumbent, who faces a one-term prohibit, now has a disapproval score of 75 p.c.

Petro has an actual likelihood at beating this 12 months’s conservative candidate, Federico “Fico” Gutiérrez. But his marketing campaign has additionally polarized a rustic that has suffered thru many years of Marxist-inspired battle. Petro’s upward push displays the huge instability Colombia has skilled over the previous few years.


How did we get right here?

Right-wing leaders have ruled Colombian politics for many of the nation’s historical past. Since the Nineteen Seventies, they have got gained U.S. backing as a part of the so-called battle on medication and profited from concern about leftist dictatorships in other places in South America, corresponding to in Venezuela.

During the Cold War duration, the Colombian executive additionally was ensnared in a many years lengthy battle with the far-left Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) guerrilla crew, which used to be best settled not too long ago in 2016 with a peace deal. Duque, then a senator, used to be adverse to the settlement. When he used to be elected in 2018, Duque pledged that he would crack down on armed teams—now not simply the FARC but in addition the National Liberation Army (ELN) and cartels just like the Gulf Clan, which introduced an armed strike in northern Colombia this month. The ELN has declared a 10-day cease-fire to make sure a protected election.

Some analysts criticize Duque for now not totally enforcing the peace deal and harming the demobilized rural communities the place its socioeconomic provisions are wanted maximum. His backing has declined additional on account of state violence towards protesters. Last 12 months, hundreds of Colombians took to the streets to protest a tax reform that might disproportionately impact working- and middle-class electorate. At least 44 civilians died from over the top police power.

Meanwhile, the COVID-19 pandemic has best exacerbated inequality in Colombia, which is the 3rd maximum unequal nation in Latin America. As of 2020, greater than 40 p.c of Colombians lived in poverty, up 6.8 share issues from 2019. Many electorate consider the federal government has fallen quick on its guarantees and seem able for a brand new chief.


Who’s working, and what are they promising?

Colombia’s election options six presidential and vice presidential tickets. Petro heads the left-leaning “Historical Pact” coalition. He has encouraged robust reactions around the political spectrum: While Petro has a substantial lead within the polls, with round 41 p.c pronouncing they might vote for him, he additionally faces the best disapproval price of any candidate at 37 p.c.

Petro’s proposals come with elevating taxes at the wealthy and transferring Colombia towards a greener financial system through slicing manufacturing of oil and coal, the rustic’s two major exports. His 12-year plan comes to boosting the tourism sector to exchange misplaced fossil gasoline income. Petro’s focal point on decreasing financial inequality has appealed to many Colombians reeling from the pandemic and inflation. But his former club within the M-19 guerrilla crew and his on occasion combative tone have raised considerations in a rustic with a historical past of violence. Petro has stated if he does now not obtain robust congressional toughen, he would impose an financial emergency to go his insurance policies.

Petro’s major contender is Gutiérrez, 47, who leads the conservative “We Believe Colombia” coalition. A civil engineer and the previous mayor of Medellín, Gutiérrez is polling at 27 p.c. His marketing campaign has all in favour of schooling reform in addition to anti-crime and anti-poverty measures, corresponding to making a fundamental revenue for five million deficient families and offering loose tertiary schooling for lower-income scholars. He additionally advocates decreasing marketplace rules and has earned the endorsement of Colombia’s industry category.

Engineer and previous mayor of Bucaramanga, Rodolfo Hernández Suárez, has have shyed away from forming coalitions with different teams and is working as an unbiased with the League of Anti-Corruption Governors. Hernández, 77, has a 21 p.c approval score and has self-financed his marketing campaign. He has advanced a robust social media presence to unfold his anti-establishment platform, which, as his birthday party’s identify would counsel, specializes in fighting corruption. But some query his guarantees. In August 2021, native outlet Vanguardia launched audio of Hernández asking congressional applicants for cash to be positioned at the league’s legislative listing.

The different major candidate is Sergio Fajardo, 65, the previous governor of Antioquia who leads the centrist “Hope Center” coalition. Polling at about 5 p.c, Fajardo targets to support schooling requirements through decreasing the price of college tuition. However, his marketing campaign has been marred through ongoing felony lawsuits at Colombia’s Supreme Court of Justice, the place he faces embezzlement fees for a $98 million mortgage contract he secured right through his time as governor.

An commercial engineer with revel in in finance, John Milton Rodríguez, 52, is working below the banner of the conservative Colombia Justa Libres birthday party. Polling at lower than 1 p.c, Rodríguez’s platform is in keeping with conventional Christian values on circle of relatives and paintings.

Last within the working is Enrique Gómez Martínez, 53, a legal professional from Bogotá and the candidate of the conservative National Salvation Movement. Although his circle of relatives has a historical past in Colombian politics, his ballot numbers slightly sign in. Martínez campaigned on new justice reforms and serving to safe agricultural rights.


What is the position of vice presidential applicants in all this? 

Colombian presidential applicants’ vice presidential choices have won oversized exposure this 12 months as a result of 4 out of the six are Afro-Colombian. In a rustic with one of the crucial greatest Black populations in Latin America, this shift has compelled Colombians to grapple with conversations about race and racism hardly heard within the nationwide discourse.

Hernández has selected Marelen Castillo, who has revel in in schooling and organizational management. Rodríguez’s vice presidential candidate is Sandra de las Lajas Torres, who has revel in in public management and been an established recommend for Afro-Colombian rights. But whilst Castillo and Torres’s candidacies are groundbreaking, maximum agree there are best two contenders with a preventing likelihood to change into the primary Black vp in Colombia’s historical past.

One best vice presidential contender is Luis Gilberto Murillo, former governor of the predominantly Afro-Colombian state of Chocó and Fajardo’s working mate. His imaginative and prescient for Colombia is one in every of a rustic that reinvests in science, schooling, and generation in addition to recommits itself to the implementation of the FARC peace accord. Murillo argues {that a} more potent safety presence in rural spaces is essential to offer protection to civilians. Although his revel in in public coverage is ample, Murillo’s perceived elitism—he used to be skilled in another countryis also the very factor Colombians have bored with.

However, it’s Petro’s vice presidential pick out, Francia Márquez, who has garnered probably the most media consideration. An environmental legal professional and activist, Márquez hasn’t ever held political workplace however received 3rd position within the left-leaning presidential number one that shaped Petro’s coalition. She stands to be the primary Black feminine vp within the country’s historical past. But her rhetoric on privilege and race has additionally made her the objective of racist tropes and dying threats.

Marquez’s struggle to be incorporated at the price ticket has made conversations about inclusion central to the presidential race, but it additionally continues to polarize Colombians as they head to the polls. Márquez has proved unafraid to push Petro towards a extra feminist platform and has brazenly criticized his document on girls’s problems. Her candidacy is projected to draw extra girls electorate on the possibility of shedding centrist toughen.


How does the two-round election paintings?

If no candidate wins greater than 50 p.c of the vote on Sunday, a 2nd around of vote casting will happen on June 19. Given present ballot numbers, that is nearly assured.

The greater than 39 million Colombians registered to vote up to now will make a selection applicants from a poll that lists 8 tickets moderately than six. This is as a result of some applicants have dropped out since ballots had been finalized. A vote for one of the crucial withdrawn applicants, corresponding to centrist Íngrid Betancourt, will mechanically cross to the candidate who gained their endorsement (in Betancourt’s case, Hernández).

Colombia is exclusive in that it grants its electorate the choice of a “voto en blanco,” the constitutionally known manner of expressing dissatisfaction with applicants. Although it’s not projected to occur, a majority “voto en blanco” would mechanically cause a brand new election with other applicants.

One main trade on this election is that the Colombia-Venezuela border has been quickly opened to permit greater than 195,000 Colombian nationals dwelling in Venezuela to go into Colombia to vote. Colombian consulates in Venezuela were closed because the 2019 breakdown of diplomatic members of the family between the 2 nations.


What demanding situations will Colombia’s subsequent president face?

According to polls, greater than 74 p.c of Colombians consider their nation is headed within the incorrect route. Some of the largest demanding situations dealing with the following management might be addressing inequality and poverty in addition to coping with drug trafficking and regional geopolitical problems.

Cocaine manufacturing in Colombia has risen considerably in recent times. It is a significant supply of revenue for the rustic and from time to time exceeds the worth of its felony exports. The subsequent management should have a plan in position to supply efficient financial choices for the rural gamers concerned. This contains growing strategic relationships with the Indigenous reserves, Afro-Colombian communities, and herbal parks—the place part of all coca vegetation are positioned.

On the global level, Colombia stays at the entrance line of Venezuela’s ongoing humanitarian disaster. Colombia has gained the biggest choice of Venezuelan refugees, asylum-seekers, and migrants of any nation, and greater than 1.8 million Venezuelans reside in Colombia as of August 2021. The executive’s open-door coverage and Duque’s determination to supply a pathway to citizenship for those migrants has strained hospitals and different public services and products.

The subsequent president must come to a decision whether or not to revive diplomatic ties with Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro. Although Gutiérrez stays important of the Maduro regime and opposes renewed ties, Petro believes that higher members of the family would assist the nations revive business and regain regulate in their shared border. This would put Colombia at odds with its longtime allies in Washington, which don’t acknowledge the Maduro regime.



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