1652735974 Petro screwed up his lead in the polls two weeks

Petro screwed up his lead in the polls two weeks before the presidential election

Supporters of candidate Gustavo Petro at a campaign event in Soacha this Sunday.Supporters of candidate Gustavo Petro at a campaign event in Soacha this Sunday Mauricio Dueñas Castañeda (EFE)

The time of the long Colombian election campaign is running out. With almost two weeks to go before the first round of the presidential election, the picture presented by the various polls has been more or less the same for more than a month. The multitude of acts that have candidates waking up in one end of the country and ending the day in the other doesn’t appear to be having a direct impact on voters right now. Gustavo Petro, the leader of the left, has remained at the top for weeks with around 40% of the electorate’s support. His direct rival, right-wing candidate Federico Fico Gutiérrez, is also stagnant at around 22% of support. A solid photo that, if confirmed in the elections on Sunday May 29, would send both into the second round and bolsters the first’s options over a second.

Fico, a former mayor of Medellín, was unknown across much of the country when he launched his candidacy months ago, so he always had tremendous room for growth that hasn’t materialized until now. Support for Uribism, the country’s corporate majority and business elites have failed to push his candidacy past 25% in the polls. Peter is the complete opposite. One of the best-known politicians in the country, loved and hated by many, who seems to have his electoral niche well under control. His campaign is holding on to a possible first-round win, although he would need just over 10 points above the current poll picture.

The two now look for the most difficult vote, that of the undecided, those who have not yet decided their support and those who do not yet know whether to vote. In this fishing ground, the only one who seems to be catching anything at the moment is the campaign’s most indefinable candidate. Former Bucaramanga mayor Rodolfo Hernández appears to be recovering, and some polls have given him up to 16% of voting intent. Hernández is unknown, although he is backed by a strong anti-corruption discourse that is gaining supporters in a country where 80% believe corruption is the biggest problem. The candidate from the Center also points to this speech, albeit with less success than Hernández. Sergio Fajardo seems to be falling out of the race for the presidency as he does not exceed 7% of electoral intentions in the latest polls.

Data suggests the campaign will resume after May 29 en route to a second round, which will take place on June 19. There the voting field turns around with what can be described as a dissenting vote. The support of those who do not support either candidate, but their total rejection of one of them leads them to vote for the other. Both Fico and Petro, clear examples of a polarized model that has long engulfed Colombian politics, are powerful levers of this dissenting voice. The uncertainty generated by the leader of the left, especially on economic issues, mobilized the entire right and centre-right around Fico. While this is seen by many as more of the same after two decades of Uribe hegemony, it is moving the disaffected and those seeking change to the left.

The question is which dissenting voice is larger today. Four years ago, anti-Petrismo far surpassed anti-Uribismo. Colombia emerged from the second government of Juan Manuel Santos, who had distanced himself enormously from Álvaro Uribe in the peace process with the FARC. Iván Duque, disciple of the powerful former president and leader of the Democratic Center, has gathered around him all those currents ready to prevent the possible takeover of power by the country’s first left-wing president. Duque won the 2018 election with 54% of the vote versus 42% for Petro.

These four years have changed the scenario. Duque’s reign ends with one of the lowest popularity ratings in history. The pandemic, coupled with the lack of political action by the executive branch, has stoked social discontent, heightened calls for political change in the country, and sunk uribismo (a downfall that cannot be attributed solely to the current president, as he also contributed his mentor with his involvement in judicial affairs). “The strategy of presenting a candidate who ‘looks’ like a center hasn’t worked because the election is not dominated by a right-left logic that previously favored the centre-right, but by continuity or change that favors the left.” , says columnist Álvaro Forero this Monday in El Espectador.

The question now is which is greater. The fear of some to see Petro at Casa de Nariño, or the fear of others that there will be no change. A poll released this Monday asks exactly why who wouldn’t vote. 38% of respondents say they wouldn’t do it for Fico, compared to 26% who refuse to support Petro. If there is no victory “first,” as Petro’s campaign for the Historic Pact encourages these days, that dissenting vote will ultimately determine the presidency.

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