October 27, 2011
Voters in Bogotá, Colombia, will elect a new mayor this weekend to take over for Clara López Obregón, the city's interim leader, who assumed office after Samuel Moreno was suspended by the inspector general of Colombia over irregularities in public works contracts earlier this year. According to recent polling, the top candidate in the race for Colombia’s second most powerful public office is center-left Movimiento Progresistas candidate Gustavo Petro, whose popularity among likely voters currently registers at 25.8 percent. Petro has a six-point lead over independent candidate Gina Parody and a 7.4 percent lead over Partido Verde Colombiano candidate Enrique Peñalosa.
The Bogotá frontrunner’s long political career began in the 1970s when he was active in Colombia’s Movimiento 19 de abril guerilla insurgency. He has since held numerous public posts, including a seat in the congress in the 1990s and made a run for president in 2010. Parody was a senator from 2006 to 2009 and a representative from 2002 to 2006. Peñalosa served as Bogotá mayor from 1998 ti 2001 and was a runner-up in the 2007 election.
The Bogotá election is one of over 1,000 regional and municipal elections that will take place on October 30. The campaign has seen a surge in election-related violence across Colombia that has included threats, murders, attempted murders and kidnappings. According to the European Union Election Observation Mission director Alejandra Barrios, "there were a total of 158 acts of political violence against candidates…of which 41 were murders and 22 attempted murders."