Right-wing candidate Iván Duque of Centro Democrático has secured top spot in Colombia’s 2018 presidential elections with 39,1% of the vote. Leftist candidate Gustavo Petro comes in second place with 25,1%. Run-off scheduled for June 17. 

After some 20 million Colombians cast ballots, Sunday May 27, to elect the successor of Juan Manuel Santos, once polls closed at 4 pm the National Registry began releasing the official bulletins.

According to the nation’s security forces, election day had transpired in peace and tranquility, “the safest in the last two decades” affirmed Colombia’s Minister of Defense, Luis Carlos Villegas.

Voting closed in consulates and Embassies across Europe, Middle East, Africa and Asia-Pacific before midday, while Colombians were queuing outside voting stations in all 32 departments.

By 4:10 pm The National Registry released its first bulletin, in which the right-wing candidate of Centro Democrático party, Ivan Duque, showed a clear lead with 47% of the vote over the former mayor of Medellín. Fajardo (29%), leftist candidate of Colombia Humana, Gustavo Petro (16%) and the centre-right Germán Vargas Lleras (7,46%).

Half and hour after polls closed with only 4% of the total vote counted, Bulletin No.4 showed Duque with 42,6%, Petro (24,6%), Fajardo (20,6%), Vargas (7,6%), Humberto de la Calle (1,6%).

Ending two terms as the 32nd President of Colombia on August 7, Santos voted, accompanied by his wife María Clemencia Rodríguez de Santos, son Martín and daughter María Antonia on the grounds of the Presidential Palace Casa de Nariño.

Iván Duque of Centro Democrático party exercised his democratic duty in the capital, Bogotá, accompanied by his wife María Juliana Ruíz and three children, Luciana (9), Matías (6) and Eloísa (4). Duque has been the front-runner of the election campaign that began March 11 after he was endorsed with 4 million votes in an internal consultation.

In the last poll conducted by Yanhass before Sunday’s historic election, the 41-year old economist who co-authored the book The Orange Economy and worked at the Inter-American Development Bank in Washington D.C., had 35% of voting intention compared to 26% in favour of the socialist former Mayor of Bogotá, Gustavo Petro. The poll put Sergio Fajardo of the Compromiso Ciudadano coalition third (14%), and support for Germán Vargas Lleras of the center-right Cambio Radical at 6%.

With these margins, Colombians made their decision on far-ranging issues, among them, the future of the peace accord with the former guerrilla of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).

Duque began to confirm that he had consolidated votes in the department of Antioquia, followed closely by the 61-year old mathematician Sergio Fajardo. Duque maintained his lead in the coffee-growing departments of Risaralda, Quindío and Caldas. Fajardo was an early favorite in the southwestern department of Valle del Cauca.

The former Bogotá mayor Gustavo Petro who considers himself a “radical democrat” maintained his popular base in the Colombian capital and began to mark a clear advantage with his rivals in the departments of the coast (Bolívar, Cordoba, Sucre and Magdalena). Vargas Lleras, who many political pundits believed would lead in coast, saw his base erode to the candidate of Colombia Humana.

Gustavo Petro cast his ballot in Bogotá’s south accompanied by his wife Verónica Alcocer and vice presidential formula, María Angelica Robledo. The 58-year old politician, whose anti-establishment rhetoric marked an embattled term as mayor, found himself by Bulletin No.6 at 4:35 pm, neck-and-neck with the Fajardo. But Fajardo lost his second-place when 85% of the total votes were counted at 4:45 pm, in which he was trailing the former Bogotá mayor by two percentage points.

Just one hour after polls closed with the official bulletin No.11 with 94% of the total votes counted, Iván Duque consolidated his victory with 40%, followed by Petro (25%).Fajardo came in third with 23,6%, Vargas Lleras with 7,2% and Colombia’s former chief peace negotiator Humberto de la Calle with 2,1%.

With Bulletin No.14 and 97.91% of all the voting stations counted, Iván Duque mantained a 14 percentage point margin over Petro, with 39,12% compared with 25,08% respectively. Sergio Fajardo guaranteed his third place finish with 23,8%, while Vargas Lleras (7,23%) and Humberto de la Calle (2,6%) showed disappointing result with voters.

As the final bulletins were released by the National Registry, Iván Duque and vice-presidential running mate Martha Lucía Ramírez had 7,4 million votes, Petro 4,8 million, Fajardo 4,5 million, Vargas Lleras 1,3 million and Liberal candidate Humberto de la Calle 400,000.

The mathematician who made urban transformation and social inclusion a pillar of his administration as mayor of Medellín recognized his defeat Sunday. “We respect the results of these elections, and have no objection. Just as we respect and build democracy,” said Fajardo.

Duque and Petro will face a runoff in the final presidential contest on June 17.