The dominant trend driving politics in much of the world these days is public disgust with the political establishment. Colombia has a presidential election on May 27, and controversial former Bogota mayor Gustavo Petro, also a former member of the now-defunct M-19 rebel movement, has made his entire political career about challenging Colombia’s political and military elite. Petro has led in some recent polls. As in Brazil, Mexico, and elsewhere, demand for political change is running high, and that will help him.
But Petro faces an uphill fight. Better known than other anti-establishment candidates in the race — he graces the cover of the latest Colombian edition of Rolling Stone magazine — he also has much higher negative ratings.
Primary elections will be held this Sunday. He should have little trouble fending off former Santa Marta mayor Carlos Caicedo, but if he survives through to a runoff in June, an otherwise fractious establishment fears him enough to unify behind his opponent from the right. And unlike Mexico, where there’s no runoff to unite opposition to candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, Petro will have to win a majority of votes to become a president.