The votes that he already adds and what Petro would lack to win the Presidency | Presidential Elections Colombia

Over the past decade there has been a particularly intense political fight to lead the alternative space. Its protagonists were Gustavo Petro and Sergio Fajardo. And the prize was a flow of votes that, depending on how it was measured, could produce a majority sufficient to win the Presidency of Colombia: one half of the country for peace with the FARC, an emerging consensus around the demand for change in the ruling elites, and a gradual but determined movement of the median voter towards center-left positions in both economics and individual liberties. On May 29, Petro was crowned the undisputed winner by multiplying Fajardo’s vote by ten. The map of falls from the political center municipality by municipality paints four deep holes in four different geographical peripheries: Pacific, Caribbean, northeast and pre-Amazonian interior south.

In parallel, Petro added especially in the coastal areas of the country, especially in the Pacific, but not so much in the other spaces left by Fajardo.

The growth of petrism in the Pacific is very likely based on his vice-presidential ticket. Francia Márquez combines her history of militancy with the descriptive representation of the large African-American population in the area. In fact, it is possible that her presence, together with the profound effect that the mobilizations of the National Strike had in Valle, Cauca, Chocó and surroundings, have brought out abstentionists and new generations to vote. Not in vain, that is where participation has grown the most compared to the first round of 2018, which was already unusually crowded with 53% of those authorized exercising their right (it would exceed 54% this year).

In contrast, the Caribbean lost electoral steam. This is a territory that in the last elections has been key for the alternatives, so in this abstention gap is one of the biggest opportunities for Petro to grow. It seems more difficult to take advantage of that same opportunity towards the east. First, because Rodolfo Hernández has penetrated with unusual force into what, after all, is the region where he was born. Second, because it is a territory that is more foreign both to him and to his movement.

The other great territorial asset of the petrism are the cities. In Bogotá alone, it added 670,000 more votes to those achieved in the first round of 2018. But also in Cali or Buenaventura, central scenarios of the harshest of social mobilizations in recent years, it added tens of thousands of new supports. Once again: the Pacific.

With these data on the table, how could Petro finish closing the gap that is still missing until the Presidency? The answer is not obvious. By all accounts, the petrism he already absorbed a good part of what he could get out of the center. If it turns out that the differential abstention territory by territory is mediated by the ideological division or by the partisan/clientele (probably it is by both), perhaps we are talking about votes that it is not feasible to attract from the extreme left.

This is especially striking since objectively many of the positions that Petro defends are popular with voters. Returning to the original list: first, Petro is the candidate who has best connected with the half minus 50,000 votes that supported the peace process in the 2016 plebiscite.

Second, the most frequent positions of voters on issues such as the request for more support for material well-being by the State are close to those of Petro.

Finally, the demand for change in the elites and fatigue with the system that has been opposed for years more from the outside than from within is overwhelmingly majority.

What’s wrong? From a strict point of view of electoral competition, it is possible to argue that Petro is despite everything less competitive than its last two rivals. Both Duque in 2018 and Hernández in 2022 have managed to sell themselves as renovators and social moderates. Petro, despite his transition to dialectical moderation, could still be wedged into the extreme for many voters.

The left needs both to add votes and subtract from the rival. After all, a percentage increases if the denominator of the division that produces it decreases, in this case the total number of voters. For those attainable by Petro to be enough to win the Presidency, it seems inevitable that Rodolfo will not meet the potentially high expectations of his mobilization.

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