BOGOTA (Reuters) – Colombia unleashed its spookiest presidential race in decades after the victory of right-back Ivan Duque in the first round of the election, triggering a departure with Gustavo Petro that could jeopardize an historic peace treaty or undermine corporate-friendly reforms.
It is the first time in Colombian modern history that an open-left candidate has reached the second round of a presidential election, a prospect that angered some investors in Latin America's fourth-largest economy. (1965, 1969) Duque, a 41-year-old Washington-based former Inter-American Development Bank official, was the compelling Sunday winner with 39 percent of the vote, ahead of Petro, a pronounced ex-president. Mayor of Bogota, at 25 percent, largely in line with the polls.
Duque's promise to revise the 201
Although outgoing President Juan Manuel Santos received the Nobel Peace Prize for the agreement, he has deeply divided the nation of some 50 million people. The deal was narrowly rejected in a referendum before Congress finally approved a modified version.
Petro, himself a former member of the now-defunct M-19 rebel group, has backed the peace agreement along with the other three losers, meaning that Duque must moderate his position to attract staggering voters.
"We do not want to destroy the agreement, we want to clarify that a Colombia of peace is a Colombia where peace and justice are in harmony," Duque said in a victory speech on Sunday to cheer supporters in which he was Sergo Fajardo , the third-placed, complimented and said that their social agenda has a lot in common.
Fajardo, a center-left mathematician who won 24 percent of the vote, declined to support one of the candidates for the second round and said his followers would decide for themselves.
However, political experts in Colombia said that if the runoff runs along ideological lines next month, the voices of center-left could be enough for Petro Duque to seriously challenge if he can avoid the allegations of his rival radicalism.
"Petro was clearly behind Duque in the poll, which will calm the markets," said Camilo Perez, economics director at Banco de Bogota. "But the fact that Fajardo was so close to Petro can create nervousness, as his approach is likely closer to Petro and could send votes (Petro & # 39; s)."
(For a graph on Latin American elections, click on tmsnrt.rs / 2wSwu9k)
ARRAY OF THE CHALLENGES
The winner of The Second Round will be faced with a series of challenges ranging from stubbornly low economic growth to a threat to Colombia's valuable investment-grade rating and difficulties in implementing the peace agreement.
In some of the areas left by the FARC, there has been growing fighting between criminal gangs and a remaining guerrilla group, the National Liberation Army (ELN), about valuable illegal mining and drug trafficking areas.
Colombia's production of coca, the raw material for cocaine, tripled between 2012 and 2016, causing concerns in Washington.
Surveys suggest that the end of the FARC conflict has shifted voters' priorities on inequality and corruption for security reasons, opening the door to the left for the first time.
A growing crisis in neighboring socialist Venezuela, which has driven hundreds of thousands of desperate people across the border, is a thorn in the side of Petro's side. Duque's camp claims he would plunge Colombia into a similar crisis.
Petro has promised to take power away from the political and social elites he accuses of stopping development and carrying out a complete redevelopment in one of the world's most unequal economies, including redistributing large tracts of land to subsistence farmers.
At his election night party in the capital, Communist party fighters waved red flags over the crowd, but Petro struck a moderate tone as he and Duque tried to attract centralist voters.
"When we talk about combating poverty, we are not talking about the impoverishment of the rich, but about enriching the poor," said bespectacled Petro, surrounded by family members.
However, in a country where oil and coal are the largest exporters, Petro's pledge to end the extractive industries and shift the focus of the state-owned oil company Ecopetrol to renewable energy has shocked business leaders.
"Our country has never experienced such a polarized moment, and Petro represents a great danger," said Mariana Riaño, a 21-year-old student, at Duque's celebration in a conference center in Bogota. "But we will beat him"
Some fear that Duque's corporate-friendly tax-cutting agenda could worsen Colombia's budget deficit, which this year stands at 2.7 percent of GDP, and jeopardize its investment grade rating.
Graphic to Latin American Elections
coverage by Helen Murphy, Nelson Bocanegra and Steven Grattan; Additional coverage by Dylan Baddour; Letter from Daniel Flynn; Arrangement by Clarence Fernandez and Jeffrey Benkoe