Colombian opposition leader Gustavo Petro has announced how he plans to take part in local elections in October after his movement was not allowed to take part as a political party.
Petro, who received 8 million votes in last year’s elections, told press he has forged an alliance with existing opposition parties, Patriotic Union (UP) and Mais that will allow candidates of Petro’s movement to receive funds to run in the elections.
The movement was refused to take part as a political party last year because the National Electoral Council, which consists of representatives or Petro’s competitors, ruled that “Humane Colombia” did not meet the requirements.
The decision by the National Electoral Council (CNE) prevents Humane Colombia from being recognized as a political party but does not prevent its members from running as part of the coalition. The UP and Mais do have legal status.
UP Senator Aida Avella announced Petro’s candidates would be allowed to use UP’s legal status and the electoral benefits that come with it. The senator, whose party was nearly exterminated in the 1980s and 1990s, has long advocated for a unified leftist political movement.
After the election, Petro was granted a Senate seat, but Humane Colombia is still not recognized as a political organization, and thus does not receive state funds and cannot run in local elections.
Six of eight CNE magistrates agreed that Humane Colombia did not qualify as a political party because it had not taken part in legislative elections.
Decisions by CNE are notoriously arbitrary because the representatives are appointed by the leading political parties. It is unclear whether all political parties must first participate in local or national legislative elections before gaining legal status.
Plans to make the electoral authority independent have failed amid resistance from the powerful dynasty politicians and political clans that control much of the country’s democratic political system.
Petro is both feared and despised in politics for his fierce anti-corruption campaigns, which left dozens of corrupt congressman in jail.
The outspoken leftist was illegally removed from office when he was Mayor of Bogota and reinstated after intervention from the Inter-American Commission for Human Rights.