This is a Quick Take of the results of the first round of the Colombian 2022 presidential election. A second report will be published after the second and final round providing a deep dive of the results.


  • Gustavo Petro (40.3%) and Rodolfo Hernández (28.1%) will be running against each other on the final round of the presidential election on June 19th.

  • Gustavo Petro will seek to attract center votes and potential voters that didn´t show up to vote on the first round. To do so, he will seek support from political sectors like Centro Esperanza Coalition with which he has had conversations in the past. It is likely that he will moderate his speech to distance himself from the negative perceptions of some political sectors. His position will focus in demonstrating that he is the candidate that represents the change that the country needs for the next years.

  • Rodolfo Hernández will seek to attract the votes of Federico Gutiérrez, which could give him the victory in the electoral race. He could also go after Sergio Fajardo's votes, since he was the candidate with whom he found more affinity during the campaign. He could potentially participate in debates and try to connect to voters interested in clear proposals given he has declined to participate in the most recent debates.

  • Alexander Vega, head of the electoral authority, delivered a positive report on the course of the elections. Although 32 polling stations had to be moved due to weather conditions, the election day proceeded peacefully, and no disturbances of public order were registered. The international electoral observation missions also made a positive report on the elections in Colombia.

  • During the speech at the end of his campaign, Federico Gutiérrez announced his support to Rodolfo Hernández for the second round and highlighted that a government of Gustavo Petro would harm the country. So far there has not been any statement from Hernandez on this decision

  • The first-round results were not surprising and were close to trends seen in the latest polls, confirming the electoral rise of Rodolfo Hernandez.

  • Regions such as the Pacific, the Caribbean Coast, San Andrés, and the south of the country voted mainly for Gustavo Petro, as well as Bogota. Some sector in Colombia seek change and this has opened spaces for the left. In 2018, Petro got 25% of the votes, while in 2022 he got 40%. It is the first time that a candidate of the left wins the first round of elections in Colombia.

  • Federico Gutiérrez won in Antioquia and abroad. The Democratic Center and Uribe are the biggest losers of this election. In 2018 Iván Duque achieved 39% of the votes in the first round.

  • Rodolfo Hernández had a strong presence in the center and western regions of the country. Rodolfo Hernández's anti-corruption discourse gained strength and represents the discontent of Colombians. It also shows the distrust of Colombians in traditional political parties. Showing himself as an outsider and a change from the establishment are pillars of his political campaign strategy. 

  • Compared to 2018, where he had 23% of the votes, Sergio Fajardo barely made it over 4%. The divisions in the center and polarization partially explain his results.

  • The blank vote rate was lower than in the 2018 elections (2.1% in 2018 vs 1.74% in 2022).

  • Abstentionism remains quite high in the country, 45.2% of the 39 million eligible Colombians did not vote. Similar scenario to the one presented in the 2018 elections.



  • Polarization: Elections set a scenario of deep social division in which two opposing agendas will face off. Candidates will have to start joining sectors and programs in order to consolidate the necessary support and decrease the levels of polarization.

  • Unemployment: The National Administrative Department of Statistics (DANE) reported that unemployment for March 2022 was 12.1%, a slight reduction compared to 2021, but still at high levels. Colombians consider that one of the country's main problems is unemployment, especially after the pandemic. The country's economic recovery has not been reflected at the same pace in the generation and recovery of jobs. 

  • Corruption: This has been key topic in the last elections that Colombia has gone through, as it has been considered as one of the main social problems that the country has. During the elections, candidates have promised to end corruption and maintain transparent administrations as part of their speeches to attract voters. 

  • Environment: Energy transition and the fight against climate change have been widely discussed during the electoral campaign. The variety of approaches put forward by the candidates represents a higher level of uncertainty for the next government. Likewise, the candidates agree on the transition processes that the country will have to go through, event though they have different approaches to it.



On June 19, the presidential run-off between Gustavo Petro and Rodolfo Hernández will take place. For a candidate to win in the first round, he had to obtain half of the votes plus one (50% of the total + 1 vote). However, none of the candidates got this amount which means that Colombians will go to the polls again to choose between the two candidates who obtained the highest number of votes. This time, the candidate with the most vote will became president.

During the next three weeks, the two candidates will seek to obtain the support of the sectors that did not win in the first round and of those who are undecided. In order to do so, it will be fundamental how they adapt their speeches and proposals to attract more voters. On most occasions, this usually implies moderation in the discourse to get closer to more people.

The National Electoral Authority Office estimates that around 39 million people are eligible to vote, 51.6% female and 48.4% male population.

Gustavo Petro

Gustavo Petro is an economist from the Externado University of Colombia with a specialization in administration from the Higher School of Public Administration (ESAP) and a diploma in specialized studies in Development, Population and Environment from the Catholic University of Louvain. He was mayor of Bogotá in 2011 and former presidential candidate in 2010 and 2018, leading the Colombia Humana movement. He was born in Ciénaga del Oro, Córdoba in 1960, grew up in Zipaquirá and joined the M-19 guerrilla at the age of 17. He was advisor to the Government of Cundinamarca between 1990 and 1991.

Polls versus results

The last poll, published by Invamer, predicted that Gustavo Petro would obtain 40.6% of the votes. In the first round, he obtained 40.3% of the votes, according to the pre-polls conducted by the National Electoral Authority

Rodolfo Hernández

Civil Engineer from the National University and born in Piedecuesta, Santander, Rodolfo Hernández dedicated most of his life to his construction business. In 2022 he is running for the first time after obtaining more of a million signatures to endorse his candidacy. His public career began in 2011 as a councilman in his hometown, after disagreements with the mayor of Bucaramanga, in 2015 he financed his own candidacy and was elected mayor of the capital of Santander. His mayorship was marked by the constant confrontation with the City Council, the corruption scandal of the Vitalogic company and the suspension imposed by the Attorney General's Office after the physical assault on a councilman.

His vice-presidential formula, Marelen Castillo has not had much previous public figuration and has developed her career in academic and administrative roles. Hernandez hopes become president without the support of any of the traditional parties. He does not have significant parliamentary support.

Polls versus results

The last poll, published by Invamer, indicated that Rodolfo Hernández would obtain 20.9% of the votes. In the first round, he obtained 28.1% of the votes, according to the precount advanced by the National Registrar's Office.



Colombian level

Climate and environment: Petro proposes a set of strict measures to adapt the country to climate change and drive the country's industry and economy towards more sustainable practices.

  • He will halt exploration and exploitation projects of unconventional oilfields and fracking. He has mentioned in some spaces that he will respect the agreements already signed with the industry.
  • Strength sustainable energy generation, especially in non-internconnected zones that currently do not have access to energy.
  • Promotion of an agenda to protect the environment and natural resources, especially water. To this end, he will restrict open-pit mining, reorganize the territory around resources and have stricter surveillance processes over industries.

Economy: Petro proposes to move the country's economy from the extractive to the productive stage. To this end, he will strengthen agriculture and national industry to make them more efficient and improve their conditions.

  • Strength agriculture in such a way that small producers will find better opportunities for production and will reinforce cooperative production models. 
  • His government will downplay the importance of the extractive industry and promote the strengthening of agrobusiness production and tourism so that they become engines of the economy.
  • He proposes a job creation policy in which the State guarantees a job for all those who want one and have not been able to find it.

What it means: Petro's proposal implies structural changes for the country that will require high levels of consensus among different sectors and a long process of adaptation for the reforms to be implemented.

  • His government could face high levels of spending, especially in social matters, which implies that revenue collection will have to be increased. Despite his proposed tax reform, it is still unclear where all the resources would come from. 
  • The opposition to his government will be strict in monitoring the execution of the resources and in carrying out political control. Therefore, the implementation of his government program could be limited unless he moderates some proposals or seeks consensus with more sectors.
  • Some proposals for the economy and the fossil fuel industry may be highly disruptive for Colombia and for the political establishment, which could lead to economic and social tensions.


International level

Foreign policy: Petro has mentioned that his foreign policy will be focused on guaranteeing human rights, the fight against climate change and regional integration through multilateral organisms.

  • Strengthen assistance to migrants present in Colombia and Colombians abroad. 
  • Promote multilateralism and diversification of Colombia's diplomatic and economic relations.
  • Renegotiation of Free Trade Agreements to stimulate productivity and adjust their conditions.
  • Resumption of diplomatic relations with Venezuela and rethinking of the anti-drug policy with the United States.



Colombian level

Zero impunity: The main narrative around Rodolfo Hernandez's government agenda is the fight against corruption in all institutions. He proposes to create a central results control system that will monitor the comptroller's offices in order to reduce corruption; this control will also be extended to entities and their spending in order to verify that they offer efficient results in their operations.

Bureaucratic reforms: The candidate has expressed on several occasions that it is necessary to review which institutions are indispensable and has expressed his interest in purging them of "politicians who drain the State". For this reason, Hernández proposes a reform of institutions such as the Administrative Department of the Presidency, eliminating around 11 offices (such as those for children, competitiveness, digital transformation, among others), as well as eliminating intermediaries in the health chain and eliminating several embassies and consulates around the world.

Implications: During the government of Rodolfo Hernández, structural changes are expected in the bureaucracy and also in terms of control of spending and the activities of public officials. Among his first actions as president, as he has mentioned, would be to declare a State of Internal Commotion decree, which would give him increased presidential powers. So far it is not clear the strategic route his government would take, which represents a degree of uncertainty in the short and medium term. On the other hand, the political support he receives in the second round could influence his government agenda.


International level

Foreign policy: Hernandez has proposed to eliminate around 27 embassies (including Australia, Sweden, Uruguay, among others) and 15 consulates (located in countries such as Venezuela, Spain and Puerto Rico) of Colombia around the world for considering them "useless". On the other hand, he has declared that he will reestablish diplomatic relations with Venezuela, which has been reproached by some sectors of the border municipalities of Norte de Santander, Arauca and La Guajira.

U.S.-Colombia Relations: Regarding the historic relationship with the United States, Rodolfo Hernandez has estimated to evaluate and eventually renegotiate or modernize the Free Trade Agreement that turned 10 years old in 2022. He has not made additional mentions about the bilateral agenda he would handle during his administration.

Implications: The elimination of embassies and consulates in the presidency of Rodolfo Hernandez would rethink Colombia's diplomatic relations with the world, which opens the need to find an alternative to connect Colombia at the international level, especially because diplomatic activity is important for international cooperation. This is relevant, if the candidate seeks to resume relations with Venezuela, or rethink the FTAs