© Reuters. A picture is taken of a wall with a picture of Colombia’s left-wing Vice Presidential candidate Francia Marquez and Colombia’s leftist presidential candidate Gustavo Petro, a day before the first round of presidential elections in Cali, Colombia, May 28, 2022. p
Written by Julia Simes Cope
BOGOTA (Reuters) – Colombians will elect a new president on Sunday, made up of a former rebel who promises generous social programs, a center-right candidate who warns against a left-wing economic model and an eccentric businessman.
Gustavo Petro, a left-wing former Bogota mayor and member of the guerrilla group M-19 and current senator, consistently leads opinion polls with about 40% support, ten points less than he would need to win the presidency without a second round in June. To make a backup.
The 62-year-old has won backing by promises to redistribute pensions, offer a free public university, and address deep inequality.
His main opponent is Federico Gutierrez, the center-right former mayor of Medellin, who has around 25% support.
Gutierrez has emphasized his own plans for a basic income of 5 million families, economic growth of 5% annually, and more efficient government spending in response to accusations that he is an ideological successor to unpopular President Evan Duque.
Gutierrez, 47, said Petro is a threat to democracy and warned that the left’s economic plans, including a ban on new oil and gas projects, would destroy the Colombian economy.
The third in the campaign is construction mogul and former Bucaramanga mayor Rodolfo Hernandez, with about 20% support.
Hernandez, who runs independently, is known for his devious videos on social media, including on an electric scooter, and for his anti-corruption promises. The 77-year-old faces an ongoing investigation into whether he interfered in an attempt to buy a company his son campaigned for. He has denied any wrongdoing.
The country’s chancellor said there was no possibility of voter fraud after candidates repeatedly raised concerns about irregularities during the March general election, which election officials described as procedural errors.
Polling stations open at 8 am local time and close at 4 pm (2100 GMT). Officials said they expect results in about four hours.