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Presidential elections in Colombia: the candidate of “the right” celebrates his victory

So awaited presidential elections in Colombia were held on the 17th of June in the context of a public division. In the first round, the conservative of “the right”, Iván Duque, and the candidate of the forces of “the left”, Gustavo Petro won. This time Colombians voted to elect a new President for the country, where the society was divided due to the truce with the “FARC” rebels, according to the agreement with the authorities in 2016. Such unprecedented agreement put an end to the 50 years of the history of the armed resistance of the “FARC”. How will the life of Colombians change with the arrival of a new leader? In fact, as shown by recent opinion polls, 42% of Colombians fear that after his arrival to power Duque, together with him will return and former President Álvaro Uribe: Duque became a candidate for the elections of the “Democratic Center” party, which is headed by Uribe.

Before the presidential elections, at the beginning of June, the popularity index of former President Juan Manuel Santos fell from more than 80% in 2010 to less than 15%. According to the political elite, the main achievement of his career as the President of the State was only the “fragile” and uncertain truce with the “FARC”, whose success still depends on the final result.

The brutal armed confrontation, which lasted more than 50 years, claimed the lives of more than a quarter of a million people, divided families, and millions of Colombians have been forced to leave their homes and places of origin.

The former President of Colombia Juan Manuel Santos left his follower not the best legate. To date, peace in the country remains a key issue, given Colombia’s “bloody” past. However, this time the election campaign was filled with an abundance of debates on other “pending” issues that are no less important for Colombians.

The main issues on the state agenda are still: security, health, education, economics and environmental issues. Most Colombians, as many polls show, are concerned about inequality and corruption in politics, which seem to be a fertile ground for a civil conflict, it needs a timely solution.

During the election campaign all candidates have promised, first, to fight against corruption, despite numerous statements by supporters of different political specters that are, unlikely, able to convince voters who intend to fight seriously against corruption, keeping its promises. After all, as Colombia’s political past clearly demonstrates, a firm stand in rhetoric does not mean a difficult position after the elections.

It is necessary to observe the main “heroes” of the electoral marathon. One of the favorites of the elections was a supporter of the former Venezuelan leader, Hugo Chávez, a former partisan and former Mayor of Bogotá, Gustavo Petro. During all the debates, he was the main critic of the Colombian conservative elite. By the way, it was Petro, a former member of the rebel group “M-19”, who was the only candidate from the “left” camp, who reached the second round. As “receiving” the inspiration in the tradition of Latin American fighters against imperialism, Gustavo Petro in the program defended the expropriation of latifundias and the transition from the oil-dependent economy to the export of avocados.

The next three candidates could not enter the leaders after the first round of voting. One of them was the former Mayor of Medellín and the Governor of the State, Sergio Fajardo, of the Colombian center-left coalition. Well-known professor of the University, Fajardo, was considered as a moderate candidate during the whole debate.

Another candidate of this “triad” was the former Vice President of Colombia during the leadership period of Juan Manuel Santos (2014 – 2017), Germán Vargas Lleras. Despite all their attempts to distance themselves from the unpopular leader of the country, support for Lleras by the population during the presidential campaign has steadily declined.

And, finally, another participant in the first round of voting, Humberto de La Calle, who negotiated with the “FARC” from the name of the Government, leading them to a peace agreement, whose ardent defender has remained since then. However, the election campaign did not give him tangible results and the support rating of this 72-year-old politician remained within 5% throughout the debate.

In the last two months, Iván Duque, from the party of the “Democratic Center”, which at that time had the support of 35 to 41% of the citizens, was the main favorite of the polls. His followers continue “to the vanguard” of former Colombian President Álvaro Uribe, the main critic of the peace agreement with the “FARC”.

Duque seeks to review the terms of the Agreement with the “FARC”: after all, many in Colombia believe that it supports the former rebels too much. Gustavo Petro and three other candidates, on the contrary, manifested in their programs about the intention to comply with the Agreement with the “FARC”.

As a result of the second round of voting, held on the 17th of June, despite the brutal debates, the winner was the permanent favorite of the entire electoral campaign: Iván Duque. According to the National Electoral Council of Colombia, after counting 99.8% of the votes Duque scored more than 10.3 million votes (53.97%), and his opponent, Gustavo Petro, received a little more of 8 million votes (41.81%).

It should be noted that the new President of Colombia, Duque, 41 years old, became the youngest candidate for the “presidency”. He was the Senator and author of several bills on the extension of maternity leave, the installation of defibrillators in state institutions and other important initiatives.

The fate of the Peace Agreement, which the authorities of the Republic concluded with the rebels, now depends on the new President of Colombia. Iván Duque from the “Democratic Center” party, stands out in the positions of the ideological front of the extreme right. At the same time, it has the support of Christian parties, religious fanatics to its programmatic points and a series of statements about the “reform” of the peace process actually means its abolition and not its subsequent implementation. To date, the problem is not that the “FARC” will take up arms again. However, the insurgent factions can also develop rapidly, and the commanders of the “FARC” will be “online” again. And then, a big problem for the country may be that Colombia will be condemned to live under the new onslaught of violence. How Duque can “balance” the solution of the conflict of half a century and prevent the repetition of the “bloody” page of the history of Colombia in the coming months. Meanwhile, it must restore the faith of the Colombian people in the observance of the main state postulates: equality, justice and peace.

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