Colombian Presidential Election: PanAm Post Live Blog

Ivan Duque and Gustavo Petro face off in the second round election

3:15AM  It can’t be denied that Petro did well, despite the fact that he lost. His vote total is even more impressive given that he did not have anywhere near the major party backing that Duque enjoyed. He is being billed as the new leader of the opposition, but it remains to be seen if he will try to mount another presidential bid in 4 years and prevent a Duque reelection. The Claudia Lopez and Sergio Fajardo contingent, which is significantly more centrist that Petro, will certainly have something to say about that.

3:10AM  All votes are in, as the National Electoral Council has released bulletin 41: its final update. Duque ends up with 10.373.080 votes or 53.98%, and Petro with 8.034.189 or 41.81%. Duque’s margin of victory stands at 12.2%, or a little more than 2,340,000 votes.

6:26PM  Petro seems very proud of his vote total: 8 million votes is nothing to sneeze at. He specifically mentioned winning in Bogota (not just the south but allegedly every part of the capital), Bucaramanga, and Atlantico. The atmosphere of the crowd is anything but defeatist; they want to take on the Duque administration, and they want to fight.

6:15PM  Petro has finally taken the stage to give his concession speech; Duque has already announced that he will go at 7:00PM. Petro makes a subtle dig at Duque for interrupting his speech during the first round, when Duque “jumped the gun” and didn’t wait for Petro to finish.

6:05PM  And to answer a pressing question on the minds of Petro voters: no…Sergio Fajardo’s backing almost certainly would not have been enough to change the dynamic of this race.  The map remains unchanged in 28 of 32 states; only in Bogota does it appear that Fajardo’s backers heavily broke for Petro in the second round. Perhaps Petro isn’t as unpopular in Bogota as we thought!

5:55PM  It remains unclear whether Petro will give a concession speech…through social media he has released a statement praising the 8 million Colombians who voted for him. The Duque campaign is now weighing whether to wait a little longer, or make the big acceptance speech. It’s likely that it may be the first time that many Colombians will see an Ivan Duque speech. It can’t be emphasized enough that Duque really came out of nowhere to win this thing: not just 4 years ago, but 4 months ago, virtually no one knew who Ivan Duque was.

5:51PM  Duque’s comfortable victory is certain to be good news for the Colombian peso, which will now strengthen against the dollar. Latin American investors generally shun currencies following a left-wing presidential victory. The peso should see a nice bump against the dollar, euro, and pound over the next week.

5:47PM  All in all, the second round broke down as we expected: the lion’s share of Vargas Lleras voters backed Duque, while Duque and Petro appear to have split the Fajardo vote rather evenly…with, of course, about a fifth of them opting for the “voto en blanco” option.

5:42PM  Where is Gustavo Petro at this point? Is he going to concede with grace, or is he looking into some kind of allegations of bias at the National Electoral Council or voter fraud? He has made such allegations in the past, but at least for now, there is no indication that he is planning on leveling any such charges.

5:36PM  One can’t help but consider the differences between victorious Duque, and Oscar Ivan Zuluaga, who Uribe backed last election cycle (2014). The right seems to have done much better with a younger, more telegenic, more energetic candidate. Zuluaga did not seem to draw forth oodles of enthusiasm, or inspire the Colombian people. Duque, at 41 years old, will be a fresh new face for the country.

5:33PM  48 million people are now waiting on Petro to make his concession speech. Will Duque “jump the gun” like last time and cut him off? Regardless, it has been a very early night; Duque is still a relatively unknown figure to many Colombians, and virtually entirely unknown to the international community. The world is about to get to know him a lot better.

5:27PM  Petro and campaign are probably wondering what they could have done to win Magdalena (capital Santa Marta) and Bolivar (capital Cartagena).  If you are running a left or center-left campaign in Colombia, you simply can’t win the presidency if you lose states like Magdalena and Bolivar. And again, the loss of La Guajira has to be very surprising for the Petro campaign.

5:21PM  Colombian press is now deeming Petro “head of the opposition.” Under new rules, he is guaranteed a Senate seat. His vote total was nonetheless impressive: 8 million votes to Duque’s 10.3 million votes.

5:19PM  A big question now: where do Fajardo, Mockus, and Lopez go from here? Lopez is almost certain to launch a campaign for mayor of Bogota in 2019, where she is all but certain to a leading candidate, uniting the left and center-left. Mockus will lead a block of opposition to the Duque government in the Senate, but he is very pragmatic, and is likely to work with the Duque administration on key issues. Fajardo is likely biding his time and waiting to launch another presidential campaign further down the road. Fajardo remains a popular figure, but he seemed to “pull his punches” on the campaign trail, and didn’t really aggressively take on Petro; perhaps a more forceful strategy would have propelled him to the second round.

5:16PM  Antanas Mockus and Claudia Lopez may have given Petro a sufficient boost to take him from the mid-30s to over 40%, but their backing is not sufficient to win a national election. Their appeal, as significant as it is, is heavily concentrated in the capital, among the 18-35 crowd, and with urban professionals. The Mockus/Lopez endorsement doesn’t appear to carry as much weight in the Colombian countryside.

5:13PM  It’s easy to identify where Duque overwhelmed Petro; the closer to the Venezuelan border, the better Duque did: he even won La Guajira, which is traditionally more of a left-leaning state. In the last election between Santos and Zuluaga (from Uribe’s Centro Democratico party), Santander, Norte de Santander, and Arauca were all very competitive states. This time, Duque won by absolutely devastating margins. There is no doubt that the political and economic collapse of Venezuela was cleverly exploited by the Duque campaign.

5:08PM  With 99.26% of votes in, Duque is winning by just over 12 points; that’s not the margin that many expected…several poll showed him leading by 15 to 20 points. However, that is little consolation for Gustavo Petro and the “petristas.”

5:05PM  For the first time in history, Colombia has a woman vice president.

5:00PM If current results hold; Petro wins 8 of Colombia’s 32 states, as well as the capital district of Bogota. Duque takes 24 of 32 states. Duque has flipped the states of La Guajira and Cordoba, while Petro has flipped the states of Valle del Cauca (capital Cali) and Putumayo.

4:55PM Uribe helped to get a president elected once before: the year was 2010, and the name was Juan Manuel Santos. Now the question is; will Duque and Uribe coordinate strategy together (as Petro’s supporters have always alleged), or will Duque be his own man? Of course, 8 years ago, no one would have predicted the cataclysmic Uribe/Santos rupture that unfolded; or for that matter the Correa/Moreno rupture that has unfolded over the past year.

4:52PM Duque’s supporters are in central Bogota on Carrera 30 with Calle 53, close to the El Campin football stadium…the party is just getting started, as they await the arrival of Duque at the victory party.

4:45PM Take a look at the results from Antioquia (Colombia’s second largest state and the home of both Duque and Alvaro Uribe). Duque is winning here by a whopping 51%…he’s not winning by such big margins in the Coffee Zone, but they are quite impressive as well. Uribismo is still a force to be reckoned with in populous Northwestern Colombia.

4:42PM Seventh bulletin just in, and Duque is the president. Petro had a spectacular showing in Bogota; he’s currently up by 15% in the capital where he was once mayor…and in Atlantico (capital city Barranquilla) he is up by 12%. Ultimately, it was not enough…Petro is winning on the Pacific Coast, from Choco down to Narino, and in Atlantico and Bogota, but Duque is winning everywhere else. You can’t lose the plains and the entire “altiplano” and hope to be president of Colombia.

4:36PM Sixth bulletin just in; Duque up by 15%, 55% to 40%, with a significant number of abstentions and “votos en blanco”…it appears that we have a new president of Colombia…this is with 68% of votes in…this will be a short night; no 2016 Trump-Clinton contest here.

4:33PM Fifth bulletin just in; Petro is doing better than expected in Bogota, with a nice 20 point lead; but, his results on the Caribbean Coast are disappointing; he is barely clinging on to the lead in Sucre (2 point lead), winning in Atlantico by 12 points, but he is losing everywhere else on the vote-rich Caribbean Coast…he needs better results there, or Ivan Duque is the next president of Colombia.

4:29PM Is Claudia Lopez going to be regretting her decision to back Gustavo Petro in the second round (despite the fact that Fajardo decided to remain neutral)?

4:26PM  Ominous signs for Petro on the Caribbean Coast: Duque just took the lead in Cordoba; Petro is now only leading in Atlantico and Sucre (where he holds a 1% lead)…Petro needs to win virtually all of the Caribbean Coast if he is going to win the election. Duque is approaching a 20 point lead (expected by the polls) as we receive the 4th update from the National Electoral Council.

4:22PM  As expected, Duque is racking up huge margins in Antioquia (capital city Medellin), and the three states that make up the Eje Cafetero (Coffee Zone): Risaralda, Manizales, and Quindio. Duque is besting Petro in the area by about a 40% margin. Petro will need fantastic results on both the Caribbean and Pacific Coasts, as well as Bogota, in order to make up that vote differential. We will see where Sergio Fajardo’s voters (who gave Fajardo the win in Bogota) end up: will they cast a blank ballot, or will they turn out in force for Petro?

4:16PM  Duque is up by about 18% with very preliminary results trickling in.  Pay close attention to Bogota and Atlantico; Petro needs to win both by respectable margins in order to have a shot at winning this election.

4:11PM  Here it is; the first votes are trickling in…with results as expected. Duque ahead in the alitplano, Petro ahead on the coast.







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