When Bogota Mayor Peñalosa took office in January, he almost impossibly could become as unpopular as his socialist predecessor Gustavo Petro. But he did and is now facing impeachment after barely half a year in office.
Petro’s administration was polemic at best. The former guerrilla had come up with a highly progressive agenda focused mainly on improving conditions from the poor, but a mutual dislike between him and the capital’s political establishment made his administration almost impossible.
Petro’s lack of ability to compromise and his opponents’ determination to make him fail made the former administration one of the least effective in the past decades.
After four years of fighting with a city council that mainly consisted of traditional career and dynasty politicians, Petro left office with a disapproval rating of 61% and an approval rating of 36%, according to Gallup Colombia.
In came Peñalosa with the support of the city’s business community, mainstream media and the traditional political elite, who immediately were granted top positions in his cabinet.
But the mayor has done little to appease Bogota’s citizens. In fact, by proposing a number of highly unpopular policy proposals his approval rating sunk even lower than that of Petro.
According to the latest Gallup poll, held in May, 62% of bogotanos disapprove of Peñalosa and no more than 31% approve.
Proposals to start construction in one of the city’s most important natural reserves, ending a metro project that had begun taking shape under Petro and his intention to sell government telecommunications company ETB infuriated bogotanos to such an extent they are now calling for his impeachment.
To make matters worse, Colombia’s Prosecutor General on Wednesday announced to open a criminal investigation against Peñalosa for fraudulently claiming he held academic titles he never obtained.
Citizens announced an anti-government march for Wednesday, one of the first steps of a six-month campaign that seeks a popular referendum in January to forcibly remove the mayor from office and call new elections.
The initiative is organized by several social interest groups and leftist political parties like the Polo Democratico and the Progressives of Gustavo Petro.
In order to force an impeachment referendum, Peñalosa’s opponents need 271,818 signatures in a city of 8 million.
The Facebook group promoting the impeachment vote and Thursday’s anti-Peñalosa march has 89,000 fans.