Yesterday’s Colombian Election and Two-Round Voting

As a follow-up to yesterday’s post on the prevalence of two-round voting systems in other countries for presidential elections, Colombia’s presidential election provides a terrific example. In Colombia’s first-round vote yesterday, three main candidates competed.

A former left-wing guerilla, Gustavo Petro, won 40% of the vote. A populist businessman who campaigned as an anti-corruption candidate, Rodolfo Hernández came in second, with 28% of the vote, which will put him in the runoff with Petro. A more establishment, center-right candidate, Federico Gutiérrez, came in third with 24 per cent.

Though Petro won 40% of the vote, commentators believe Hernández is likely to win the runoff. Petro’s support is viewed as capped at around that 40% level and nearly all of Gutiérrez’s vote is thought likely to go to Hernández in the runoff.

If things play out this way, the Colombian election will be a good example of the difference in outcomes that can be generated with plurality rules that enable more factional candidates to win versus systems, such as runoff elections or RCV, that select for candidates with broader support in the electorate.

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