Colombia’s voters are taking to the polls on Sunday after three months of heated and sometimes violent campaigning.
To secure orderly as possible elections for the country’s approximately 36 million voters, authorities have closed the borders and a liquor ban is in place.
The National Police deployed almost 70,000 troops and the military deployed an extra 55,000 men and women to secure tranquil elections.
Maintaining the peace and combating fraud
Despite increased violence in the months leading up to election day and the fact the ELN did not declare a ceasefire like in previous elections, authorities said they do not expect violent interference of illegal armed groups on Sunday.
One of the main challenges of the authorities is to maintain the trend that allowed 2018’s elections to be the most peaceful in decades.
This is complicated because of the first participation of the FARC, the political party that was the country’s largest guerrilla group until 2017.
Another top priority has been to prevent fraud, a historic ill that has been particularly rife in local elections.
Ahead of the elections, electoral authorities revoked a the ID cards of one million registered voters on suspicion they would be used for election fraud.
The prosecution said Friday that 9,000 officials would be available to respond to fraud complaints and initiate criminal investigations.
The independent Electoral Observation Mission (MOE) said that some 3,340 volunteers will be observing the elections. Also the Organization of American States (OAS) is monitoring the elections.
What’s at stake
The mayoral elections in Bogota are about what is widely considered the most powerful political position after the president.
In other cities and in the countryside, the elections decide the effective division of power as local authorities are often in charge of executing policies from Bogota.
This power and the budgets that come with it have traditionally been divided between regional cartels, or clans as they are called. The power of these cartels has increasingly been challenged by anti-corruption and pro-democracy forces from both the left and the right.
Positions up for election
- 32 governors
- 1,101 mayors
- 418 provincial assembly members
- 12,063 city councillors
- 6,814 community council members
Additionally, the local elections are an indication of how Colombians’ political mood has changed since the 2018 national elections, providing an indication who will be the main players and how strong their regional support networks will be in the 2020 elections.