Leftist Gustavo Petro wins Colombian presidency

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Gideon Long in Bogotá

Gustavo Petro, a former urban guerrilla who once spent time in jail for his political beliefs, won Colombia’s presidential election on Sunday and is expected to usher in the most leftwing government in the country’s history.

Petro earned 50.5 per cent of the vote to 47.3 per cent for his only rival, 77-year-old populist businessman Rodolfo Hernández, according to provisional official results. His tally of 11.3mn votes was the highest in Colombian electoral history. Hernández accepted defeat within hours in a short video message.

The result represents a sea change for the South American nation, which for decades has been ruled by moderate and conservative politicians, mostly from the established elite.