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News > Latin America

Some Policy Challenges for the Next President of Colombia

  • A citizen supporting the Historical Pact candidate Gustavo Petro, Colombia, May 2022.

    A citizen supporting the Historical Pact candidate Gustavo Petro, Colombia, May 2022. | Photo: Twitter/ @petrogustavo

Published 25 May 2022

Whoever assumes the presidency will face challenges such as promoting economic growth, protecting human rights, and resolving unsatisfied social demands.

On Sunday, 39 million Colombians will go to the polling stations to elect their president for the 2022-2026 period. According to the latest available polls, the Historical Pact candidate Gustavo Petro has managed to reach 44 percent of the voting intentions.


Candidates for the Colombian Presidency Attended a Debate

He is followed by Team for Colombia candidate Federico Gutierrez, a far-right politician who remains below 23 percent of the voting intentions. If no candidate manages to obtain over 50 percent of the votes, Colombians will go to a second round on June 19.

Other candidates who have not yet given up the competition have lower percentages of citizen support. Below are some policy challenges that the next Colombian president will need to address.

RESUME THE PEACE PROCESS. During his administration, the far-right President Ivan Duque has done very little to cement the peace agreement that the Colombian state signed with the then Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) in 2016.

Generalized insecurity throughout the territory, political violence, and the selective assassination of social leaders have placed Colombia among the world's most dangerous countries. Therefore, most likely, the next president will have to address the problems arising from the activities of armed groups, paramilitaries, and drug trafficking.

PROMOTE GROWHT AND CONTAIN INFLATION. After the pandemic-related shock, the Colombian economy managed to recover inertially and grew 9.9 percent in 2021.

As an effect of current policies, however, the World Bank forecasts that the Colombian gross domestic product (GDP) could decrease to 4.1 percent in 2022 and 3.5 percent in 2023. All this will happen amid an inflationary trend that is being fueled from abroad by the Ukrainian conflict's effect on international markets.​​​​​​

"The first thing the next government has to do is guarantee there are resources to be able to carry out social reforms," ​​political analyst Pedro Viveros said, recalling that all the candidates have spoken out in favor of a tax reform.

The increase in public revenue should be accompanied by a reform of the pension system aimed at protecting the rights of retirees. The next president will face proposals on this issue that have already polarized Colombian society and its representatives in Congress.

A MORE INCLUSIVE AND SUSTAINBLE DEVELOPMENT PATH. The Duque administration did not listen to the demands that Colombians took to the streets during the social unrest of 2019 and 2021. Inequity, poverty, and injustice are pending issues.

The next president will have to face the task of creating a more productive but also more inclusive development model. Among other things, these objectives involve resolving the poor distribution of land, reducing food insecurity, and promoting renewable energies, according to Yann Basset, professor of Political Science at the Universidad del Rosario.


Gustavo Petro
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