The social networks displaced the massive political rallies as the most effective means of attracting voters, especially the undecided, in the campaign for the second round of the Colombian presidential elections that will be held this Sunday by the leftist Gustavo Petro and the populist Rodolfo Hernandez.
Candidates’ initial scrambles shifted to small, low-crowd events, while their teams work to keep their social networks active, where they spread their ideas and proposals through short messages or creative videos.
The debates also went into the background after Hernández, a millionaire engineer who between 2016 and 2019 was mayor of Bucaramanga (northeast of the country), gave up attending them after the first round, so Colombians have not had the opportunity to listen to the vision of the country of both candidates.
“The debates turn out to be exhausting and repetitive, and their very format is running out of validity a little”Explain Carlos Charliedirector of the doctorate Social Studies of the University of Rosario.
From the beginning of the presidential race, Rodolfo Hernández’s team focused the campaign “to establish a direct connection with their potential voters through social networks”points out this scholar.
This is due, in his opinion, to the fact that the presidential campaigns of Petro and Hernández are currently “oriented more towards the mobilization of emotions than arguments, and this is also connected to the fact that the debates are more rational, more academic” Y “They don’t go so much for emotion.”
Despite his 77 years, Rodolfo Hernández has earned the qualification of “The King of TikTok” for the relevance that he has given to that social network since the beginning of the campaign, while Gustavo Petro is more active on Twitter, where he has more than five million followers.
dirty campaign online
The personal attacks and the dirty campaign have also grown as the second round progresses, in which few proposals and much controversy have been discussed, especially with videos taken out of context, both of Petro and Hernández, who will also reach the election day in technical tie in the polls.
“The campaign strategists have opted for this (the control of emotions) and somehow that becomes a relationship between an idealized us and them. At each step in the electoral process, this strategy becomes more intense and at the same time it generates more wear and tear on the citizenry”explains the academic of the University of Rosario.
With the passing of days, everything has become “a black and white thing, where the type of responses even becomes predictable” of each candidate in the face of the events that are taking place.
In this context, last week there was a great controversy over the publication in several media outlets of videos recorded months ago at meetings of the electoral command Historical Pactled by Gustavo Petro, in which there is talk of maneuvers to discredit rivals, receive money and even negotiate with imprisoned drug traffickers.
The target of the dirty campaign was the potential rivals of the leftist candidate in the first round, especially Sergio Fajardo Y Alexander Gaviriaof the Hope Center Coalitionand the right Federico “Fico” Gutierrez.
“These leaks have a very clear political intention, they are old, one from ten months ago, another from two years ago. The question is why do they publish them ten days before the elections?Petro’s debating boss wondered, Alphonse Pradawho added that these are recordings “illegal”for which a complaint was filed with the Prosecutor’s Office.
Fake news, spread even by the candidates themselves, has also played a crucial role in the closure of the campaign, especially on social media, where it has spread uncontrollably.
social networks are “an advantage that brings the disadvantage of fake news”comments the teacher of the Pontifical Javeriana University of Bogotá, German Camilo Prietowho recommends responsible use and “corroborate everything that appears in them with official sources, to see if it is true or not” what is said.
“In this final stretch that has been the tool that the candidates have resorted to, among other things, because (Rodolfo) Hernández did not want to attend public debates and almost forced (Gustavo) Petro to also use social networks to communicate their approaches”he claimed.
For Prieto, the only thing the applicants are doing in this final stretch is attacking each other, “which is unfortunate, given that their proposals are quite similar”.
Nonetheless, “There is already very little that can be done on social networks to motivate people to vote”considers the Javeriana professor, because after all, “no one is going to change their minds for the mere fact that they communicate more or less things on social networks”.