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Leftist Petro Takes Early Lead in Colombia Presidency Vote

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(Bloomberg) -- Gustavo Petro took the lead in Colombia’s presidential election with the majority of votes tallied, putting him within reach of enacting a radical overhaul of the nation’s pro-business economic model.

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With more than 99% of ballots counted on Sunday, Petro had 50.5% to 47.3% for construction magnate Rodolfo Hernandez, according to Colombia’s election authorities. Petro claimed victory in a post on Twitter.

“Today is a party for the people,” he said. “Let them celebrate the first popular victory.”

Petro, 62, wants to boost import tariffs, impose higher taxes on the rich, and phase out oil and coal. Hernandez, 77, who promised a crackdown on corruption and waste, is due to issue his own statement on social media.

Assuming Petro prevails, “we expect more volatility in local markets and the weakening trend of the peso would continue,” said Ana Vera, chief economist at Panama-based IN ON Capital. Investors will be waiting for signals of who will make up Petro’s economic team, she added.

The fact that two anti-establishment candidates made it to the runoff despite one of the fastest rates of economic growth in the Americas this year is a sign that Colombians are demanding a shift away from the traditional style of politician who has led the country for decades. The outcome is also likely to upend the nation’s close relationship with the US.

“Things will not be the same again,” Mauricio Cardenas, a former Colombian finance minister who is now a regional adviser for Goldman Sachs Group Inc., said before the vote. Regardless of the winner, he added, this election marks “a turning point” for Colombia.

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