Former rebel Gustavo Petro has been elected Colombia’s first left-wing president, with voters giving him a narrow victory over Sunday’s run-off politician and popular Rodolfo Hernandez.
According to preliminary results released by election officials, Petro received 50.47% of the vote on Sunday evening, while Hernandez received 47.25%.
“Today is a day of celebration for the people. Let them celebrate the first popular victory,” the current senator and former mayor of Bogota Petro tweeted after the results came out. “Many sorrows must be nourished in the joy of this day. The motherland fills the heart.”
The success of the former guerrillas in Colombia and the rest of Latin America following the election of left – wing presidents Chile, Peru and Honduras in 2021 is a sign of growing discontent.
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According to a recent Gallup poll, nearly half of Colombians say their local economy is the worst, while 80% say corruption in government is widespread.
Petro, who was jailed in the 1980s for his involvement in the useless M-19 movement, during his campaign promised a suite of economic reforms, including higher taxes, higher government spending and changes in the country’s pension system.
Although voters chose Petro on his progressive platform, he will have difficulty fulfilling his promises due to the broken Congress in Colombia.
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Millionaire real estate magnate Hernandez, who has run an unconventional campaign on TicTac and other social media platforms, agreed Sunday evening.
“If we want our companies to be resilient, I accept the outcome,” Hernandez said in a video. “I sincerely hope this decision benefits everyone.”
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Petro’s colleague Francia Marquez will become Colombia’s first Afro-Colombian woman vice president.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.