The polls say that Iván Duque is going to win. This time I believe it; my common sense also points me in that direction.
The senator of the Democtratic Center (Centro Democrátivo) has not only been an eloquent candidate, with structured propositions, and coherence in his proposals throughout the campaign; but also he has not made mistakes, nor has he been at the center of controversies that polarize the electorate.
Although many would rather leave the peace treaties intact and listen to the opening proposals on topics like abortion, marijuana, and gay marriage, the main criticisms by his opponents are not on his proposals.
The pundits reject his uribismo and the dead weight that comes with it; the links to politicians with mafia leaders and the paramilitary, the scandal of “false positives” when Colombia’s army executed civilians and called them guerillas, the illegal phone wiretapping of politicians, judges, and journalists; the corruption used to round up votes in order to change the constitution and allow Uribe’s reelection.
Duque told me that he wants the country to give him the opportunity to prove that the corrupt Colombia is in the past. Different to Álvaro Uribe, a strong and polarizing figure, Duque speaks of consensus and dialogue to generate the important reforms that the country needs. He is a contender that brings a breath of fresh air to the Democratic Center.
The same day that I interviewed him, I also conversed with the leftist Gustavo Petro. Both spoke to me in interviews for Univision a day after the first electoral run and the contrast could not have been more stark.
Duque greeted me in a 5 star hotel. Petro in his modest office.
Duque arrived accompanied by a team of media management; Petro was alone in a small meeting room where I arrived accompanied by his friendly wife, who greeted us at the door.
Duque had the smile of a winner and enthusiastically welcomed our production team; Petro consulted a personal computer and had a somber appearance that projected a mix of worry, self-reflection, and strategy.
During the interview, Duque stuck to his campaign talking points with a few added nuances; Petro conveniently changed a big part of his speech.
After proposing a constituency, talking about expropriations, and denying to identify Nicolás Maduro as a dictator, Petro, with his eye on the election this Sunday, needed to become more moderate. During the interview he made sure to reverse his main points about having sympathy towards chavismo; those which greatly damage his presidential aspirations.
As long as the Venezuelan crisis gets worse, it also affects Petro’s presidential possibilities. The candidate of the Humane Colombia (Colombia Humana) took too long to distance himself from Nicolás Maduro and the disaster that is Venezuela.
It also doesn’t help him that the main benefactors of the peace treaty that he defends are leaders that have been caught negotiating the transfer of tons of cocaine to the Cartel of Sinaloa.
Petro is a brilliant politician with equally structured proposals. He has made a point of embracing anti-establishmentism, which attracts the youth and low-resource voters. He dominates the campaign floor and moves masses of people; however, he is betrayed by a fear-mongering strategy with which he reports on massive election fraud or anticipates another war if Duque wins.
If on Sunday the right-winged candidate becomes the next president, it will prove that Duque can shine with his own light. No matter how much support he may have from the uribistas, not just anyone can get to the presidency in almost one year after being a complete nobody, against many candidates with decades of political experience.
And if he really wants to show that corruption and criminality is a thing of the past in Colombia, he will need to keep his promise of “he who does it, pays for it” and allow justice to prevail; even if it means the judiciary is stepping on the toes of the very Álvaro Uribe, his political godfather.