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Colombian elections were held on March 13. There is no clear triumph and the danger of the extreme left winning is lurking, but what the results of today’s congressional elections leave us with is that this is not a death foretold—for now. These are the 5 things to highlight from the election day.
Petro obtains the majority of votes in both Houses, but still has a ceiling
With more than 95% of the tables counted, the coalition of Gustavo Petro, the candidate of the extreme-left, in both the Senate and the House of Representatives, manages to be in first place by the total number of votes. In his speech — very moderate for what we are used to — he was pleased and highlighted that they are the first force. However, it is clear that he has had moments of greater effusiveness and that he expected much, much more.
In the first round of 2018, Petro obtained 4,855,069 votes. Today, in the consultation, he has achieved almost 4 and a half million, and even adding the votes of the other participants of the coalition his number is not much higher than what he got 4 years ago. Petro is already known by the whole country, he is the eternal candidate, he has a ceiling that he does not seem to be able to surpass, because although he pretends to be moderate from now on, millions have already seen his true face of terrorist and guerrilla.
So, he is still a threat to be faced with care, but the reality is very far from the triumphalist discourse that the left is giving.
Uribism must reflect
Adding both Houses, Uribism loses more than 20 seats. The Democratic Center, once the leading force in the country, is relegated in these elections to fourth and fifth positions. The blow of not having President Uribe at the head of the party has been hard, and it should also be noted that they have an open list. But to be fair, although these two factors are relevant, it is clear that there is discontent with the government of Iván Duque and that many no longer see in the party the strength with which it was born.
Unfortunately, another factor that has hit the collectivity is the negative publicity campaign that its enemies have been doing for years. The leader of the Democratic Center, former president Uribe, has had an aggressive campaign against him, which, told over the years and in different media, has gradually caught on in some sectors of the population that have already forgotten what Colombia was before the Democratic Security came to the presidency.
In any case, in the face of challenging times and in spite of the attacks, the first thing must be self-examination.
Social networks are not a good predictor of elections in Colombia.
It has happened over and over again in Colombia: it is time for parties to learn. Social media followers, in most cases, don’t magically turn into votes. Candidates who are very strong in social networks, and therefore attract the attention of the parties, were left out or got a much lower vote than expected. However, if we take a look at the winning list, we might wonder who those people are.
In Colombia, the work in the street is fundamental. Parties must know when developing strategies and giving endorsements, and the voters must consider it at the time of voting. Some people didn’t choose certain candidates because they believed that their popularity in networks was an indication that they already had enough votes.
Congress is divided
Whoever the president is, left or right, things will not be easy. In Colombia, it is sometimes difficult to know which side certain parties will be on when it comes to voting, but counting based on the voting history of the elected candidates and which leaderships they respond to, there is no sector that has been left with absolute control.
It is worth mentioning that several of the Liberal Party, such as Laura Fortich, are much more likely to vote to the right than to the left.
The center-right must unite
Although, as we said at the beginning, the figures we know so far predict it is almost impossible for Petro to win in the first round, he would have to add to his current numbers five million voters in two months. The leader of 21st-century socialism is so dangerous that it is imperative to create a team in order to prevent the extreme-left from taking over Colombia.
Fico Gutierrez, the winner of the Team for Colombia consultation, who (adding the votes of all the participants of the coalition would have more than three million votes) is a man with good ideas and respected within the business sector, would make a great couple with Oscar Ivan Zuluaga, the candidate of Uribism.
The situation is not easy, but it is time to leave aside protagonism and egos, and do what the country needs.
Vanessa Vallejo. Co-editor-in-chief of El American. Economist. Podcaster. Political and economic analysis of America. Colombian exile in the United States // Vanessa Vallejo. Co-editora en jefe de El American. Economista. Podcaster. Análisis político y económico de América. Colombiana exiliada en EE. UU.