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Colombia: Rodolfo Hernandez and Gustavo Petro in Head to Head for Presidential Elections

Rodolfo Hernández

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The end of the presidential race in Colombia is approaching with a technical tie between the Bumanguan businessman, Rodolfo Hernandez, and the far-left senator Gustavo Petro. The country is waiting for a vote that predicts a heart-stopping electoral result.

The electoral polls in Colombia put the two candidates in a technical tie. Apparently, Gustavo Petro has managed to snatch voters from Hernandez who would go with him or vote blank in the second round.

The latest poll by the polling firm Guarumo still gives Hernandez the victory, but by a difference of less than 2%, which puts him in a technical tie with Petro by the margin of error.

Another poll, by the firm Yahaas, gives Petro as the winner with a 45% voting intention, and leaves Hernandez with a mere 35%, due to an unusually high blank vote intention of 13%.

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Although Hernandez is still the winning candidate for most pollsters, his lead over Gustavo Petro has been lost (Image: EFE).

Why did Rodolfo Hernández lose his lead to Gustavo Petro?

With the support of Federico Gutiérrez’s voters, in theory, Hernandez would have 52% of the voters. However, Hernandez’s refusal to build consensus with potential political allies such as Sergio Fajardo and his constant attacks on Uribism have cost him a significant amount of votes.

Hernandez has also been the victim of a dirty campaign by Petro’s campaign. His party’s social media outlets have taken it upon themselves to paint him as a senile, disoriented, sexist, and corrupt candidate.

Hernandez’s own tongue has punished him on several occasions, such as when he stated in a radio interview that “the ideal would be for women to dedicate themselves to the home and raising children”, a comment that has been interpreted as sexist by the majority of the Colombian public and has cost him votes in the center.

Perhaps the event that has cost Hernández the most politically has been the prosecution against him by the Attorney General’s Office for corruption. Although Hernández has not yet been convicted, he has already been called to trial for the crime of undue interest in the execution of contracts when he was mayor of Bucaramanga.

Although in Colombia it is normal for presidents, during or after their government, to be prosecuted by the justice system and then filed in the Accusation Commission of the House of Representatives, Hernandez could become the first person to become president while being charged with a crime.

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Petro’s campaign has managed to capture a significant percentage of undecided voters and snatch votes from Rodolfo Hernandez. (Image: EFE)

Gustavo Petro’s gaffes

On his side, the candidate of the extreme left has also had blunders. Two weeks before the elections, Semana magazine revealed what is now known in Colombia as the” petrovideos,” a series of meetings recorded in Zoom by the campaign of Pacto Histórico, Petro’s party, where a strategy to discredit rivals is revealed. The tactics were forged in meetings where the presidential candidate himself was present.

One of the most controversial videos shows Gustavo Petro’s political ally, Senator Roy Barreras, admitting that staff of the party campaign has visited the wards of the maximum security prison of La Picota in Bogotá, seeking “testimonies” against opponents in exchange for ending extradition to the United States.

The scandals on both sides have left a tense atmosphere for the elections over the weekend. Petro himself has said that, should he not win, the country would face an outbreak worse than the national strike in 2021. The candidate’s comments have been interpreted by some analysts as an intention not to recognize the results of the election in case Hernandez is proclaimed winner of the race.

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