Election candidate Claudia Lopez impressed on Sunday as Colombia’s election authority agreed to a referendum that seeks a compulsory vote in Congress on far-reaching anti-corruption measures.
Of the more than 4 million signatures Lopez said to have collected, 3 million were approved. This is considerably more than the necessary 1.7 million signatures to force a Senate vote on a referendum.
Unless Congress intervenes, the anti-corruption referendum is set for January and February, just before the 2018 congressional elections.
Structural reforms to curb widespread corruption
If 11 of Colombia’s 49 million Colombians approve the seven anti-corruption measures, Congress will be forced to pass them as law.
The proposed anti-corruption measures
- Three-term limit for all elected officials like senators and representatives
- All elected officials must make their assets public
- All elected officials must make their voting record public
- All levels of government must make their budgets public
- Those convicted of corruption must go to prison without parole options
- The State must nullify all contracts with individuals or companies convicted of corruption
- Reduce congressmen’s salary from 40 to 25 times the country’s minimum wage
Tail wind for Lopez
The announcement puts the political outsider in the presidential race, Lopez, in the middle of the spotlight as she was the senator to propose the bill.
Lopez’ candidacy was confirmed by the independent Green Party just days ago.
A successful referendum on one of Colombia’s hottest topics could increase chances for Lopez in the election race with 29 candidates.
Breaking bad habits
An approved bill would affect the governability of Colombia’s traditionally corrupt elected officials.
Some could be removed from office either for being under criminal investigation or for having occupied a congressional seat for too long.
This would further affect the future governability of Congress while the referendum is expected to be held just a month before the 2018 congressional elections that already has seen political turmoil.
Congress has long been considered one of the most corrupt institutions in Colombia’s political system.
Major parties have been banned from 2019’s local and provincial elections for proposing candidates who proved to be either corrupt, or tied to illegal armed groups or drug traffickers.
Multiple congressmen are under investigation in high-profile corruption cases. Some even face war crime allegations.