As his own campaign loses support, presidential hopeful Enrique Peñalosa has accused competitor Oscar Ivan Zuluaga of making “lying political promises” to the people of Colombia.
|Colombia’s 2014 elections|
And Peñalosa concedes that those promises are driving Zuluaga’s success.
When the former Bogota mayor last spoke to Colombia Reports, he said that the biggest challenge facing his campaign was getting the word out about his candidacy.
Now he claims the biggest problem causing his campaign’s recent nose dive in most polls, is trying to compete with Zuluaga’s political lies.
“We have other difficulties now. One weakness that we have is that we do not make lying political promises. We have a competitor, in particular Zuluaga, who has made a whole television campaign promising and promising and promising a mountain of things that he cannot accomplish,” Peñalosa explained to Colombia Reports just days before the election.
A Mountain of False Promises
The Green Alliance (Alianza Verde – AV) party’s candidate said that Zuluaga has specifically made many “economically irresponsible promises,” during his campaign pointing to pandering to any group of Colombians he comes across.
“For example, he promised that he is going to raise the salaries of the whole world, of police officers, doctors, military personnel, teachers, to the whole world. He says he is going to raise the minimum wage 10%. These are promises that generate more informality and more problems, and additionally they are promises that he did not follow through with when he was [Colombia’s Finance] Minister,” continued Peñalosa.
However, the presidential hopeful who has prided himself on running an honest campaign devoid of “hate,” admitted that his opponent’s strategy has been working as Zuluaga leads the polls for the opposition candidates.
“But [the strategy works] for many people in these countries where we have low levels of education about how the political system works. It is very sad,” said Peñalosa.
“And there isn’t sufficient supervision from a critical press that sufficiently questions these [false] promises,” he added.
A Fall from Grace
Despite Zuluaga’s “lying political promises,” the United States-born politician’s campaign seems to be having problems in its own right.
When Peñalosa formally entered the race in early March, he was a favorite opposition candidate, projected to beat Santos in a second round run off between the two.
Now, a month after he was tied with Zuluaga in most polls, the Democratic Center (Centro Democratico – CD) candidate has run away with the coveted second place slot behind incumbent Juan Manuel Santos, while Peñalosa has lost considerable support, falling to fourth place in some polls.
When pressed on why this fall from an anticipated successful campaign has happened, Peñalosa said that he believed they were “making progress.”
That progress has not been evident in comparison to the campaigns of other candidates.
In an analysis done by El Tiempo newspaper, while Peñalosa has one of the higher number of followers on Twitter, he tweets fewer times daily than any other candidate by a long shot.
In Medellin, Colombia’s second largest city, there have been countless rallies and events promoting the other candidates, complete with actors on stilts for President Santos and marches with Democratic Pole’s (Polo Democratico – PD) Clara Lopez through downtown. Only recently have some youth begun standing on the streets handing out flyers for Peñalosa, and AV Senator-elect Claudia Lopez walked through an outdoor shopping complex for an hour spreading the name of the presidential hopeful.
Furthermore, while he has had an at least notable presence on television — he noted that “we have very little money for television campaigns — there are no billboards up across the country in support of the candidate. One cannot drive two blocks in most cities without seeing billboards and large signs for President Santos and Zuluaga, yet the AV candidate does not have one.
“We did not put up billboards because it is deteriorating to urban quality and because [billboard owners] do not pay their true taxes,” explained Peñalosa.
“For this we have continued without [billboards], for principled reasons.”
In a presidential race where the incumbent’s campaign manager resigned due to allegations of receiving drug money, and the lead opposition candidate was caught on video allegedly illegally wiretapping government negotiations with guerrillas in Cuba, perhaps taking the moral high ground on billboards will prove detrimental to Peñalosa’s success.
Even the politician himself admitted that the media attention stirred up by the “hate” of Santos and Zuluaga “has served it’s purpose in mobilizing many people.”
The first round of Colombia’s presidential elections will take place on Sunday, May 25.