Colombian President-elect Ivan Duque in Bogota, after winning the runoff on June 17, 2018. Photo: Raul Arboleda/AFP/Getty Images

Conservative at heart but progressive in outlook, President-elect Iván Duque came in ahead of Gustavo Petro — an ex-guerrilla and former Bogotá mayor — in this weekend's highly polarized runoff election.

What's next: His honeymoon period is likely to be short-lived, however, as growing political divisions add to Colombia's governability challenges.

Even after the campaign, Duque's political identity has yet to be fully revealed. The 41-year-old former senator and one-time Washington policy wonk managed a meteoric rise after forming a tight-knit relationship with Álvaro Uribe, the popular former president (2002-2010) who looks poised to maintain his status as political kingmaker from his Senate perch. For example, Duque ran on the ticket of Uribe's Democratic Center party, and it is unclear whether he will take risks that could upset the conservative base underwriting the Uribista coalition.

Among the many challenges, the economy may be where Duque first turns his attention. Growth was anemic in 2017 and Colombians are thirsty for social change, especially after the losing candidate, Gustavo Petro, used his campaign to shine a light on deep social inequalities.

The country's security risks are of greatest concern to the U.S. and the region. Washington made a multi-billion-dollar security investment via Plan Colombia (2000-2006) and has continued to strengthen its strategic relationship with Bogotá. Duque is likely to modify parts of the FARC peace deal, sealed by outgoing President Santos, though he seems to have stepped back from calls for wholesale renegotiation, a moderation that will probably please the region.

Drug-trafficking issues will resurface as well, with Duque likely to resume aerial eradication of coca crops, in part to satisfy the U.S., where President Trump stands ready to decertify Colombia for non-cooperation.

Why it matters: Duque's election did not directly develop from the right-wing shift in Latin American politics, though his ascendance adds another important voice to the emergent chorus of pro-business, pro–U.S. leaders in Latin America.

Michael McCarthy is a research fellow at American University’s CLALS, an adjunct professor at George Washington University's Elliot School for International Affairs and the founder and CEO of Caracas Wire.

Go deeper

McEnany spars with reporters over whether Trump condemned white supremacy

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany clashed repeatedly with members of the media on Thursday over whether or not President Trump has forcefully condemned white supremacy, at one pointing accusing CNN's Kaitlan Collins of asking a "partisan attack question."

Why it matters: It was one of the most confrontational press conferences yet by a White House press secretary brought in for the express purpose of sparring with a Washington press corps that the president has attacked as "the enemy of the people."

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 11 a.m. ET: 34,026,003 — Total deaths: 1,015,107 — Total recoveries: 23,680,268Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 11 a.m. ET: 7,237,043 — Total deaths: 207,008 — Total recoveries: 2,840,688 — Total tests: 103,939,667Map.
  3. Health: New poll shows alarming coronavirus vaccine skepticism — New research centers will study "long-haul" COVID — Coronavirus infections rise in 25 states.
  4. Business: Remdesivir is good business for Gilead.
  5. Transportation: The politics of pandemic driving.
  6. 🎧Podcast: The looming second wave of airline layoffs.
2 hours ago - Technology

Senate panel votes to subpoena Big Tech CEOs

Photo: Graeme Jennings/Pool via Getty Images

The Senate Commerce Committee has voted to authorize subpoenas compelling Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey and Google CEO Sundar Pichai to testify before the panel.

Why it matters: The tech giants are yet again facing a potential grilling on Capitol Hill sometime before the end of the year, at a time when tech is being used as a punching bag from both the left and right.