The electoral race for Bogotá officially began last Friday. On August 4th, the deadline for political parties and electoral platforms to make changes to the candidates for the upcoming local elections on October 29th came to a close. With the latest additions, the electoral race started officially with 9 candidates aiming to replace the current mayor of the capital, Claudia Lopez. It’s surprising that among all the nominations, there isn’t a single woman among the candidates.
On July 29th, three months before the election, the electoral propaganda period began. Last Sunday, August 6th, the official candidacies were published, and it hasn’t gone unnoticed that there isn’t a single female candidacy in Bogota for the 2024-2027 term.
Four years ago, Claudia Lopez’s victory made international headlines. It was the first time a woman had become the mayor of the Colombian capital. Her sexual orientation was also a subject of discussion, highlighting the social changes that the country has undergone to normalize a member of the LGBTQ+ community occupying the second most powerful position in Colombia. However, with electoral registrations closed for this year’s election, there isn’t a single woman aspiring to succeed López. The nine candidates are all men; some are well-known figures in Colombian politics, while others are not.
Citizens have until August 29th to register their ID cards. This option is only for citizens who are voting for the first time or wish to change their voting location. It doesn’t affect those who haven’t changed their residence. In that case, their voting station will be the same as in the previous election.
Changes in the Electoral System
One of the most significant changes in this electoral contest is the two-round voting system for Bogota. This model will be extended to other cities over the next 20 years. In the capital, the first round will take place on October 29th. If no candidate secures over 40% of the votes, or the winner doesn’t achieve a lead greater than 10% over the second-place candidate, the top two candidates will participate in a second round of voting on November 19th.
The system has been criticized by some sectors due to its high costs. However, this is not a new decision, as it was already decided that the election in 2019 would be the last held using the single-round voting system.
Security, the Main Topic of Debate
Beyond other issues such as the metro project, the widely discussed theme of security, or the lack thereof, is once again the focal point of the campaign. It has been one of the issues drawing the most criticism from the current administration, which has repeatedly complained to the national government about the lack of law enforcement personnel for the capital. Legally, the mayor’s office is the city’s top law enforcement authority, which doesn’t absolve Claudia Lopez of responsibilities.
The public perception is that insecurity has increased. Data supports this: according to the 2022 Citizen Perception Survey, 37% of those surveyed expressed feeling unsafe in the city. 73% stated they had been victims of some form of crime, especially street robberies. This crime is specifically regarded as the most widespread, accounting for 65% of incidents.
Among the nine official candidates vying for the mayorship of the capital, there are familiar faces in Colombian political life.
- Gustavo Bolívar: The former senator of the Historic Pact imposed himself as President Gustavo Petro’s candidate, a designation not without controversy. Initially, Carlos Carrillo had received the support of the Democratic Pole, but this party decided to subject the selection of left-wing candidates to a vote. Carrillo accepted Bolívar’s stronger backing but didn’t spare criticisms of the way the designation unfolded.
- Diego Molano: Former Minister of Defense under Iván Duque, running as the candidate for the Democratic Center.
- Carlos Fernando Galan: The candidate for the New Liberalism. He’s running again after finishing second with over a million votes in 2019.
- Rodrigo Lara: Former President of the House of Representatives and ex-senator, running for the position for the first time.
- Juan Daniel Oviedo: Former director of the National Administrative Department of Statistics (DANE) under President Duque. His name has been in circulation for a long time. Oviedo became popular during his tenure at DANE and is considered by many to represent greater cross-sectional support.
- Jorge Enrique Robledo: The veteran politician presented his credentials amidst yet another controversy on a thorny issue in Bogota: the metro project. Robledo was in favor of the underground metro, although he quickly clarified that he would accept the route approved by January 1, 2024, when the winner of the October elections takes office.
- Jorge Luis Vargas: Presented himself with the support of Radical Change. The police officer stands out for his experience in the security issue afflicting the capital.
Two Unknown Candidates with Ambitions
- Rafael Quintero: An engineer from the San Cristóbal locality who has served as mayor of the San Cristóbal, Rafael Uribe, and Puente Aranda localities.
- Nicolas Ramos: A lawyer who garnered the support of 125,000 signatures for his candidacy.