Next month is Bogotá local election time – nationwide campaigns for local mayors, governors, council and assembly members are hotting up
Elections for governors of each of Colombia’s 32 departments and officials in over a thousand municipalities, as well as the Mayorship of Bogota, will take place on October 25.
With just under two months to go, there are three clear front runners in the Bogota mayoral race. The most recent Gallup poll, released on August 25, put Peñalosa in the lead with 24.2%, followed by Pardo at 22.5%, and López with 21.1%. Pacho Santos, of Centro Democratico, was trailing with 13.4% and another independent candidate, María Mercedes Maldonado had just 3.4%.
Both the Gallup poll and a survey by ProBogota put security as the most pressing issue, with analysis on leading political website La Silla Vacía showing that, although the rate of homicides in the city has decreased, both theft and the feeling of insecurity are on the up.
The elections take place against concern over manipulation of votes, high abstention rates and threats against candidates.
An Ombudsman ‘early warning’ report stated that 268 municipalities throughout the country were at risk of pressure or intimidation from armed groups, down from 356 in 2011. The demobilised paramilitary group, United Self Defence Forces of Colombia (AUC) presented a threat in 156 districts, FARC in 128 and the ELN in 79.
More worryingly, it also identified 106 acts of violence, including six murders of candidates or close relatives and six murders of public officials.
At a meeting of the National Election Commission on September 1, the Minister of the Interior, Juan Fernando Cristo committed to reinforcing security in the 268 districts that are at risk.
The minister also said that they would tackle the issue of voting irregularities – saying that more than 20% of new registrations were fraudulent.
“There are between 800,000 and one million registered cédulas in which the information doesn’t match the SISBEN or FOSYGA [legal] properties for the municipality where they are registered.”