Independent election observers in Colombia said that the refusal of leading candidate Ivan Duque “removes citizens’ rights to information” over campaign proposals.
The conservative candidate, who is leading in the polls, on multiple occasions refused to take parts in public debates with his rival, the leftist Gustavo Petro.
According to the Electoral Observation Mission (MOE), the lack of debates “facilitates misinformation, the misrepresentation of facts through edited information and fake news.”
The polarized elections were dominated by false claims and occasional outbursts of violence.
Duque did take part in the debates before the first round of elections, but his lack of experience in politics made him an easy target for rival candidates.
For the MOE, it is crucial for the country to make progress; first, in making it compulsory for candidates to attend a minimum number of public debates and; second, in establishing a mechanism that allows campaigns, private and public media, unions and civil society to realize and increase the impact of political debates.
Electoral Observation Mission
The observers also lambasted the political campaign for failing to make their finances public in a coherent way.
The information that was made public by the campaigns did not allow an effective audit of the origin of the money reported by the campaign.
Campaign financing has long been a thorny subject during the elections. In past elections, organized crime groups and corporations alike used campaign financing to buy support from the candidates.
Efforts to make this process more transparent have failed.