Ivan Duque, a young protege of powerful former president Alvaro Uribe, has been elected Colombia’s new president.
Duque captured almost 54% of the vote, defeating former leftist guerrilla Gustavo Petro in a tense runoff election that appeared to be tightening until the last moment.
Duque, 41, is no doubt business-friendly and has already promised to cut corporate tax to stimulate the economy and generate jobs. However, he looks to disturb the country’s political ecosystem, as he has vowed to make changes to the historic peace deal agreed with Farc rebels in 2016.
Although the peace accord is controversial, it is widely debated and, above all, critical to end the decades of violence in the country. Duque’s mentor Uribe is one of the fiercest critics of the peace accord.
A powerful leader in Colombian politics, Uribe was constitutionally barred from seeking office for a third time (The former president was the keynote speaker at the Nexus 2012 event in New York City).
Duque entered public service almost two decades ago as an adviser to then Finance Minister Juan Manuel Santos. He also served as adviser for Uribe as well as the Inter-American Development Bank.
His running mate, Marta Lucía Ramirez, will become Colombia’s first female Vice-President.
The president-elect is talking of boosting investment and cutting spending on social welfare programs, but the Andean country is suffering from a widening fiscal deficit, social inequality, and a crippling health care system.
He has also promised to bolster the oil and coal sectors, but analysts say that could be a laborious task given the current economic climate.