A sophisticated and less radical leftist and an outspoken millionaire who does not steal or betray: Gustavo Petro and Rodolfo Hernández they appeal to the emotions of the electorate in the final duel of their strategies to reach the presidency of Colombia.
Petro and Hernández, the first a 62-year-old senator and former guerrilla, and the other, a 77-year-old outsider without a party or ideology, they arrive tied in the intention of voting for the ballot next Sunday.
Both are figures opposed to the ruling class and represent a break alternative and change in the face of the boredom expressed at the polls towards the traditional parties, marginalized for the first time from the dispute for power.
In the final stretch towards the second round, each one moderated their image to persuade abstentionists, who make up 45% of the electorate, mostly young, already undecided.
Gone are the speeches in the public square, debates and fair play. The last assault between Petro and Hernández is disputed in the field of emotions and the rival’s discredit.
Petro, the single
Before the first round, Petro exploited his skills as a speaker in the hundred public squares he visited. His proposal includes ambitious and complex reforms to, for example, strengthen the State, stop oil exploration in favor of renewable energy sources and change the pension system.
“When he got up on a platform and talked for an hour and a half with people what he was doing was thoroughly deepening his economic modelthe treatment of the field (…) and that becomes a bit sophisticated,” acknowledges Alfonso Prada, head of the leftist debate.
Given the rise of Hernández, who surprisingly received 28% of the supporthis communication strategy took a turn to counteract the simple and effective language of his opponent.
“Our defect was (that of) not being able to convey more simply in the language to the Colombian population,” adds Prada in dialogue with AFP.
The candidate for the Historical Pact, a coalition of center and left movements, He left the stage and the great mobilizations to multiply his interviews with the media and record pieces of propaganda with a fisherman, miners or artisans.
A Petro sleeping in the house of poor residents, involved in the kitchen or in sugarcane crops and even playing soccer softened the image of the rigid politician and intellectual of the first part of the contest.
“We have a Gustavo Petro and a Francia Márquez (vice-presidential candidate) who communicate more simply, who speak much more directly,” according to the strategist.
However, the candidate who encouraged the politics of love was exposed with the leak of edited videos from his campaign headquarters where, together with his advisers, he arranged strategies to discredit rivals.
Hernandez, the frank
Known as the king or the old man of TikTok, where he has almost 600,000 followers, Hernández encompasses his entire proposal in the fight against corruption with a paradox: he is called to trial for an irregular contract signed during his time as mayor of Bucaramanga (2016-2019).
After going to the second round, he resigned from debating with Petro, limited his interviews and canceled public appearances in the last week, denouncing an alleged and gruesome plot to assassinate him with a knife.
“Rodolfo has no makeup. One of the strengths of his strategy is to show him as he is (…), with the blunders that he sometimes does for the frank; because of how unbuttoned he is to raise things, “said Ángel Becassino, his main campaign adviser, to the A Fondo program on Spotify.
In the last stretch of the contest, he reinforced his figure as a pragmatic capitalist who made himself in the world of construction, and who does not agree with politicians no matter how much they express their support.
The right wing opposed to Petro closed ranks around the independent, a mix of Donald Trump, Nayib Bukele and Andrés Manuel López Obrador. Of the latter he already announced that he will copy his daily press conferences and he promised to take to the public pillory the congressmen who reject his projects.
With three “primary slogans: don’t steal, don’t lie, don’t betray,” Hernández wants to solve the “lack of money, lack of work, and lack of security,” according to his strategist.
Given his multiple false starts and sexist and xenophobic comments, the independent wants to radiate the image of an ordinary man who, to tell the truth, can commit outbursts. His vice candidate, Marelen Castillo, burst into the race to soften Hernández’s image in front of women.
“It is a much lighter version of both candidates (…) to try to reach that public dissatisfied with the two candidacies, that 5% of undecided, with a strategy of emotions rather than proposals,” says Felipe Botero, an expert from the University of Los Andes.