A quarter of Colombia’s governors are under investigation by the Inspector General, with new elections likely in some departments, reported local media Thursday.
The Inspector General’s office, charged with ensuring proper conduct among public officials, is reportedly investigating eight of Colombia’s 32 departmental governors over disciplinary offences related to budgeting and contracting.
The governors were elected in October 2011 and cannot serve consecutive terms, so the investigations have all been begun in the first year the governors have been in office. The figure includes the Governor of Huila, Cielo Gonzales, sanctioned for alleged embezzlement of resource royalties, and the Governor of Casanare, Nelson Mariño, barred from office for alleged irregularities in the recruitment for the compensation department.
Fernando Giraldo, a professor at the University of the Andes, was quoted by newspaper El Espectador as saying that this may start to have an impact on the stability of public policy. “It’s not necessarily the case that a stable government is a good government, but instability never produces good government,” he warned.
In addition to potential vacancies in Huila and Casanare the Governor of Choco, Luis Gilberto, is currently suspended, meaning up to three elections for new governors may have to be called outside the usual electoral cycle, a process the government says is expensive and results in low turnout.
There are also currently 55 investigations against mayors across Colombia. Giraldo said that some investigations are opened due to defeated candidates making complaints against the winners of elections.
“Given the complexity of achieving a recall of their mandate, the defeated candidates choose the simpler method: make complaints and seek the initiation of proceedings against those who won the elections,” he claimed.
Last year saw eight special elections outside of the usual electoral cycle.