Down in Colombia, Gustavo Petro, the leftist candidate, came in first place but did not clinch a victory. So he will have to face Rodolfo Hernandez, the populist outsider, who may benefit from key endorsements. This is the story:
The great danger was that Gustavo Petro — a left-wing extremist who belonged to the M-19 guerrilla group and supported by the FARC terrorist organization — would win in the first round. However, he obtained 40% of the votes, which is not enough to win in the first round. Rodolfo Hernandez got 28% and Gutierrez, 23%.
It is most likely that in the second round all of Gutierrez’s votes will be absorbed by Hernandez. In fact, Gutierrez already endorsed the outsider, when he gave his speech recognizing his defeat. If the votes obtained by Hernandez and Gutierrez in this first round are combined, Hernandez will be president of Colombia.
Colombia dodged a leftist bullet! It will be a lot more difficult for Petro to win a majority in the second round. The combination of Hernandez and Gutierrez is over 50%, enough to keep Petro from the presidency.
So Colombia will now choose between a leftist and a businessman who is not your classic conservative but will appeal to enough middle class voters to win the June 19th runoff. Some Colombians have told me that Hernandez has a little Trump in him, i.e. the outsider running against the political class.
We will see the candidates in a debate soon. The big issues are inflation and the post-COVID economy. Many of us are relieved that Colombia may avoid turning into Venezuela.