Colombia’s congress has begun debating a far-reaching political reform that ultimately seeks to diminish corruption and violence in politics and elections.
The reform proposal is one of the consequences of a peace deal with the FARC. the country’s oldest Marxist guerrilla group that demobilized and disarmed earlier this year in order to convert to a political party.
The bill seeks constitutional reforms that would increase the possibility of smaller, regional parties to take part in elections, limit private financing of political campaigns and replace the National Electoral Council (CNE) with a judicial body rather one conformed by political parties.
Part of the bill is compulsory to improve unless Congress decided to undermine a peace deal closed with the FARC last year, while other parts were introduced by President Juan Manuel Santos.
Congress on Wednesday will begin debating the bill that is most likely to disrupt Colombia’s politics that has been marred by corruption and violence since the foundation of its first political parties in 1848.
The government initiative came just weeks after a referendum was held in which citizens demanded additional measures to stop corruption in Congress, widely considered Colombia’s most corrupt institution.
At least one of the anti-corruption measures demanded in the referendum, a three-term cap on congressmen’s ability to be elected, has been included in the reform, according to Interior Minister Guillermo Rivera.
To reduce the possibility of private parties to corrupt political campaigns, the bill seeks public funding for election campaigns while obligating companies or private citizens to make campaign donations public.
Campaign donations by foreign nationals or companies would be banned altogether.
Additionally, election authority CNE would be abolished. If approved, the electoral body will be replaced by a judicial body independent of the country’s political parties that currently effectively self-regulate alleged cases of fraud carried out by one or more of its own members.
Additionally, the bill seeks to obligate the state to provide free public transport in all of Colombia in an effort to curb a widespread practice of political candidates or their party providing transport for voters.
To promote increased political participation and a less dominant role for the Bogota and Medellin ruling elites, the bill seeks to lower the threshold for political parties and candidates wishing to take part in elections.