Petro, Gutiérrez, Fajardo win Colombia’s coalition elections

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Despite inclement weather across Colombia on Sunday, more than 11 million citizens headed to the ballot box to elect house representatives and Senators, as well as three presidential candidates running in their respective coalitions.

Shortly after voting closed across the territory, the first bulletins from the National Registrar’s Office revealed the surging vote count of three candidates who enter the first round of the May 29 presidential election alongside independents Ingrid Betancourt, Rodolfo Hernández, and official candidate of the right-wing Centro Democrático party Óscar Iván Zuluaga.

During an electoral day that offered few surprises, and transpired in complete peace and order throughout Colombia, was the overwhelming majority the political base of the left-wing coalition Pacto Histórico gave its progressive candidate Gustavo Petro.

Petro, who has led the government’s opposition for four years, and effectively has been campaigning to clinch the top political seat in the country since losing to President Iván Duque in a second-round on June 17, 2018, earned yesterday 4,120,162 votes of the coalition’s 5,122,104. The leader’s 4.1 million votes are lower than the 4.8 million he won in the first round of the 2018 elections.

Emerging victorious from a very cohesive center-right coalition – Equipo por Colombia – is candidate Federico Gutiérrez with 1,974.903 votes, and political upset given that the former Mayor of Medellín entered the race in August, 2021, joining a coalition alongside other former-mayors Enrique Peñalosa (Bogotá); Alex Char (Barranquilla); Conservative party candidate David Barguil and Christian party MIRA’s Senator Aydeé Lizarazo.

Gutiérrez’s almost 2 million votes launches the candidate as a serious contender to challenge Petro, and progressive leader’s conviction that he will win the presidency in the first round. Equipo por Colombia’s total vote count surpassed 3.6 million votes.

Another former mayor of Medellín and Governor of Antioquia, Sergio Fajardo earned the nomination for the center-left coalition, defeating the New Liberal party’s Juan Manuel Galán and the early favorite in the race, economist Alejandro Gaviria.

Fajardo, who ran in the 2018 presidential elections as an independent backed by the Green Party and Polo Democrático obtained four years ago more than 4.3 million votes but did not make the second round. On Sunday, the mathematician and anti-corruption campaigner secured his candidacy with 668,289 votes of the coalition’s 2,015.720.

Even though exit polls as early as last week declared Petro, Gutiérrez, and Fajardo frontrunners within their coalitions, the big surprise of this election night is the 781,865 votes that the Afro-Colombian social leader Francia Márquez won within Pacto Histórico. Second only to Petro, as well as many seasoned candidates from other coalitions and parties, among them Jorge Robledo (161,046); Alex Char (705,070) and former Governor of Boyacá Carlos Amaya (450,939), with 14% of the Pacto Histórico vote, Petro may have to give Márquez the vice-presidential ticket to cement his movement toward Casa de Nariño.