Newly elected Colombian President Gustavo Petro (C) and his running mate Francia Marquez (R) celebrate at the Movistar Arena in Bogota, on June 19, 2022 after winning the presidential runoff
Daniel Munoz | Afp | Getty Images
Colombia will be governed by a leftist president for the first time after former rebel Gustavo Petro narrowly defeated a real estate millionaire in a runoff election that underscored people’s disgust with the country’s traditional politicians.
Petro’s third attempt to win the presidency earned him 50.48% of the votes Sunday, while political outsider Rodolfo Hernández got 47.26%, according to results released by election authorities.
The election came as Colombians struggle with rising inequality, inflation and violence — factors that led voters in the election’s first round last month to punish long-governing centrist and right-leaning politicians and pick two outsiders for the runoff contest.
Petro’s win in Latin America’s third most populous nation was more than a defeat of Hernández. It puts an end to Colombia’s long stigmatization of the left for its perceived association with the country’s half century of armed conflict. The president-elect was once a rebel with the now-defunct M-19 movement and was granted amnesty after being jailed for his involvement with the group.
Petro issued a call for unity during his victory speech Sunday night and extended an olive branch to some of his harshest critics, saying all members of the opposition will be…