The local and regional elections in Colombia drew a new political map of the country and gave a wake-up call to President Gustavo Petro, whose candidate suffered a crushing defeat in the dispute for the Mayor of Bogotá, a city that he governed and that has been his stronghold.
10/29/2023. Carlos Fernando Galán Pachón, youngest son of the political leader Luis Carlos Galán Sarmiento and the New Liberalism party, speaks after being elected the new mayor of Bogotá. EFE/ Mauricio Dueñas Castañeda
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Leer en español: Las elecciones territoriales colombianas dan un llamado de atención a Petro y su partido
In the Colombian capital, former senator Carlos Fernando Galán, of the New Liberalism, a party founded by his father, Luis Carlos Galán Sarmiento, murdered by the drug trafficking mafia in 1989, when he was the favorite to win the Colombian Presidency, won comfortably and without need to go to a second round.
With the vote closed, Galán is close to 1,500,000 votes (49.02%). Followed by the independent Juan Daniel Oviedo, who obtained 614,233 ballots (20.10%) and was relegated to third place as former senator Gustavo Bolívar, a member of Petro and his Historic Pact coalition, who received 571,591 votes (18.71%).
Bolívar, upon recognizing Galán's victory, assured that centralism "killed" them and that the results were "a punishing vote towards the Historical Pact." Well, many people who voted for them in the last presidential elections “have become disillusioned.” For this reason, he added, it is necessary "to travel through Colombia to pick up those broken pieces of the Historical Pact and return to being the first force."
Bolívar's disappointment is no small thing if one takes into account that just 16 months ago, in the 2022 presidential elections, Petro obtained more than 2.2 million votes in Bogotá, that is, 58.59% of the capital, a flow that reduced a third in yesterday's elections.
While it is true that the elections for mayors and governors should not be understood as a plebiscite on the Petro Government, among other things because the Historical Pact did not present its candidates in many places, although it did support allies, today's results are a call to attention of the electorate.
“I believe that this result will be the prelude to what will happen in 2026,” former Colombian vice president Germán Vargas Lleras predicted on his X account (formerly Twitter), who recalled that the same thing happened four years ago when the left grew in the territorial elections. and then he won the Presidency with Petro.
And beyond the defeat of the Historical Pact in Bogotá. Candidates from the right or center-right also won in Medellín, Cali, and Barranquilla, the cities that complete the country's poker of aces.
In Medellín, a conservative city where Uribism is very strong, the polls certified the overwhelming victory of the city's former mayor and former presidential candidate Federico “Fico” Gutiérrez, an opponent of Petro, who obtained 73.43% of the votes, leaving the independent Juan Carlos Upegui, close to the president, with 10.11%.
Equally overwhelming was the victory of the former mayor of Barranquilla Alejandro Char, of the right-wing Cambio Radical party. He received 73.32% of the votes, which left leftist Antonio Bohórquez with 9.36% without a chance.
Less overwhelming but surprising was the victory in Cali of Alejandro Eder at the head of a center-right coalition, who obtained 40.54% of the votes. At the same time, the favorite throughout the campaign, the independent Roberto Ortiz, came 28th. 06% and the candidate of the Historical Pact, Danis Rentería, foundered with 11.06%.
As for the governorships, in Antioquia, the department of which Medellín is the capital, the Uribe Democratic Center party, leading a right-wing coalition, won with Andrés Rendón.
Another coalition with a broad political spectrum won the Governorship of Valle del Cauca with Dilian Francisca Toro, who is however accused of being a shadow ally of Petro, while the candidate of the Historical Pact, Ferney Lozano, obtained 12.50%.
In the dispute for the Governorship of Atlántico, a position that Nicolás, Petro's eldest son, now in judicial trouble, disputed four years ago, this time the president had no candidate and the liberal Eduardo Verano de la Rosa won.
Perhaps the most significant victory of the Historical Pact was that of the Governorate of Nariño, where Luis Alfonso Escobar won. Although in the Mayor's Office of Pasto, the capital, the Government party came in fifth place.
Equally important is the result of the Magdalena Governorate, won by Rafael Martínez, from Fuerza Ciudadana, a movement allied to the president, who also won Santa Marta, the regional capital, whose elected mayor is Jorge Luis Agudelo.