Colombian presidential election: what you need to know

BOGOTÁ, Colombia – Colombia will hold a presidential election on Sunday unprecedented in its history.

Voters in Latin America’s third-largest country demanded change, rejecting a political establishment that has held power here for generations. Whoever wins, the new president will announce the start of a potentially transformative era.

But will the historically conservative country choose its first leftist president? Or will he bet on a political outsider?

The choice is between two populist candidates: Gustavo Petro, a leftist senator and former guerrilla vying for his third presidential election, or Rodolfo Hernández, an outspoken former mayor operating on an anti-corruption platform.

Sunday’s vote will be the culmination of the most tense and violent election cycle in more than a decade. Recent polls show Petro and Hernández virtually tied, raising fears that the losing candidate or his supporters could challenge the results and incite unrest.

Both candidates faced assassination threats. Petro and his running mate, Francia Márquez, participated in campaign rallies last month behind bulletproof shields. Hernández extended a trip to Florida last week and canceled all public campaign events for security reasons.

“It’s a breaking point in Colombian politics,” said Sandra Botero, a political scientist at Universidad del Rosario in Colombia. “I don’t think we’ve had an election this close and where so many issues have been at stake for decades. No matter who wins, we seem to be standing at a critical moment. »

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