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A flyer with the image of Colombian left-wing presidential candidate Gustavo Petro and Colombian centre-right presidential candidate Rodolfo Hernandez.

Reuters

It's populist vs. populist in Colombia

Voters around the world often say they want change — but rarely are they presented with no choice but to elect a radically different political outsider. That’s what’s happening this weekend in Colombia’s presidential runoff that’s unlike any other in recent memory: the contest pits a populist against … another populist.

The context: Colombians are fed up. And why not? The past several years have seen two separate explosions of popular protest over inequality and taxes. The pandemic, meanwhile, pushed 3.5 million more Colombians into poverty, and inflation is at its highest level in more than 20 years. Cocaine production has recently touched all-time highs, and violence and petty crime are rising again after years of decline. Small wonder that a recent poll by Invamer, a Colombian agency, found that nearly 75% of Colombians think their country is headed in the wrong direction.

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