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Opinion: Presidential Elections Colombia: The accounts of Gustavo Petro and Rodolfo Hernández

In the second round in Colombia, the picture is not as clear as many believe. This is the route that Gustavo Petro and Rodolfo Hernández are now taking to win the presidential elections in Colombia .

Gustavo Petro and Rodolfo Hernandez

Photo: Latin American Post

LatinAmerican Post | Santiago Gómez Hernández

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Leer en español: Opinión: Elecciones presidenciales Colombia: Las cuentas de Gustavo Petro y Rodolfo Hernández

The first round left two big winners in the Colombian elections: Gustavo Petro and Rodolfo Hernández. And despite the fact that no politician managed to get more than 50% of the votes, both will compete in the second round for the presidency. With a simple majority (the one with the most votes) one of the 2 will be the new president of Colombia.

However, the fact that Gustavo Petro has been left with 41% of the votes and Rodolfo Hernández with 28%, means that there is still a way to go for both candidates. Despite the fact that many already give the engineer the victory, the electoral race is very complex and both must take care of every vote and every word they formulate in the last stretch of the campaign. The most recent survey gives a technical tie between the two.

Read also:Gallery: Gustavo Petro and Rodolfo Hernández Go to the Second Round of the Elections in Colombia

These are the accounts that they have to do so that both candidates win the elections on June 19:

Rodolfo Hernández's Path to Be President

Currently, Rodolfo Hernández arrives with 28.15% of the votes in the first round. To ensure a certain victory, he would need a simple majority.

If politics were simple mathematics, all the anti-Petro votes should be added to Rodolfo's 5,953,209 votes in the first round. This means Federico Gutiérrez's 5,058,010 votes, John Milton Rodríguez's 274,250 votes, and Enrique Gómez's 50,539. This would give Rodolfo, in theory, 53.58% if the same people turn out to vote.

Additionally, the engineer also has the possibility of attracting a certain number of votes from Sergio Fajardo's 888,585 and also from the undecided or those who did not vote first because the favorites were Petro and Gutiérrez. This happens because Rodolfo Hernández is still a candidate that many do not know and that, equally, few reject. Completely opposite case to Gustavo Petro.

What is the problem with this view? Those electoral politics is anything but exact mathematics. Here, 1+1 does not give 2, it can give 3 or 0. It means that now that only Gustavo Petro and Rodolfo Hernández enter the race, the former mayor of Bucaramanga must keep all these votes. His electorate is recent and it is possible that from the same 28% of the people who supported him in the first round, several will end up reconsidering their vote after the engineer has now come out as a candidate for the second round.

This is why the Hernandez campaign hopes to expose the candidate as little as possible. This means not participating in debates (the same strategy used by Petro in the first round, Iván Duque in 2018, and many other politicians in the Colombian scene. Between Rodolfo the less he talks and the less he engages in divisive issues, he will be able to keep a large part of his electorate. He will have to juggle so as not to lose the votes from the right that arrive nor the votes from the center that supported him, and who fear flirting with Uribismo.

He has also known how to play the anti-Uribe card. Knowing that by nature, the majority of Federico Gutiérrez's voters prefer to vote for Rodolfo than for Petro, the engineer has been clear in rejecting Uribismo openly. Most of the followers of the former Colombian president will still support him. If the Santanderean openly receives Uribismo, many of his votes in the first round would be frightened and could reach Petro, the blank vote or abstention.

The Way of Gustavo Petro

The Colombian senator and former mayor of Bogotá faces a scenario that he had not faced in this campaign: being in second place in voting intentions. In the first round, he won a historic vote: 8,527,768 votes, the highest vote for a leftist candidate in Colombia. However, his entire campaign was planned to compete (in the worst case) against Federico Gutiérrez and Uribismo in the second round. Now that his opponent is Rodolfo Hernández, the picture is different.

Petro has 40.32% of the votes in the first round and if we do the math, he would only need (approximately) 10,709,316 to get 50% + 1 vote in the first round. This means: 2,181,548 additional votes. Simple mathematics, in theory, does not give. If you manage to add the total of Sergio Fajardo's vote (888,585 votes), it would only reach 44.52%. It would not be enough for him to achieve victory on June 19.

Fortunately for Petro, politics is not exact mathematics, and despite the fact that he will surely not absorb all of Fajardo's votes, the politician from Ciénaga de Oro has other accounts.
One possibility is to get votes from Rodolfo. He will achieve this in debates or interviews since the leftist has shown much more eloquence than the Santanderean. Accentuating Hernández's recent mistakes and his sexist and xenophobic narrative could be his strategy. Likewise, Hernández is now facing an investigation for corruption and this could influence the vote that Rodolfo is not assured of.

Although it seems strange, already in Santander (Rodolfo's stronghold where he was mayor of the capital, Bucaramanga), several politicians who supported them in the first, have retracted and announced that they will support the candidate of the Historical Pact in the second. And each vote that Petro de Rodolfo wins is worth double.

Now, as far as Federico Gutiérrez is from Gustavo Petro, Fico was supported by several groups and parties: from the Uribistas and the extreme right to traditional parties close to the center-right. Likewise, there were several political clans that surely moved influence and money to support the former mayor of Medellín. The question now is: without Federico in competition, will all the votes of clans and political parties go to Rodolfo? I have my doubts, especially when Petro has been closer to César Gaviria (president of the Liberal Party) than Rodolfo.

Additionally, there is the white elephant... and very white. Those who did not vote in the first round. The holy grail of Colombian politics. In a country where voting is not mandatory and abstention is almost half (45.09% in the last elections), these nearly 20 million votes are the desire of every politician. There are potential voters for both candidates and they can change any election. The problem is that all the politicians have wanted to capture this group of voters, but the numbers show that they have all failed.

This second round is open. Rodolfo is part of the favorite, but the road is long and anything can happen. Any alliance, comment, contradiction, or scandal can end the aspirations of any candidate.