Leftwing candidate and former M19 guerrilla leader Gustavo Petro, 62, won Sunday's presidential elections in Colombia, as all polls had foreseen. But he will face 77-year-old populist Rodolfo Hernández at the runoff in three weeks, which nobody saw coming.
All polls had taken it for granted the conservative former mayor of Medellín Fico Gutiérrez would advance to the decisive round.
With 94.19% of the votes counted, Petro's Historical Pact had 8,052,587 (40.39%), while Hernández's League of Anti-Corruption Rulers surprisingly garnered 5,580,237 (27.99%). Since neither candidate crossed the 50% threshold, a runoff on June 19 is required.
Gutiérrez, of Equipo por Colombia, came in third with 23.87% of the votes. Behind him was another former mayor of Medellín: Sergio Fajardo of the Centro Esperanza coalition, with only 842,467 ballots (4.22%).
We thank the people who voted for us. The country will always be above, far above our personal interests, and today Colombians have two alternatives, said Fico Gutiérrez. We have made a decision. We do not want to lose the country and we do not want to put the future of Colombia at risk. That is why Rodrigo and I will vote for Rodolfo and Marelen, said Gutiérrez as he urged his followers to do their utmost to keep the far left from reaching power. Images of Petro together with the late V Venezuelan leader Hugo Chávez which went viral on social media over the past few days might come in handy.
Gustavo Petro, for everything he has said, does not suit Colombia. He would be a threat to democracy, to freedoms, to the economy, to our families, and to our children. We consider that this option would be a threat for the country, Fico added.
I invite you to take care of the country and vote for Rodolfo. Let's defend democracy. he went on.