Bogotá mayoral election in three-way race, Galán takes lead

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Bogotá Mayoral candidates (left to right): Daniel Oviedo, Gustavo Bolívar, Carlos Fernando Galán.

In the run-up to the 2023 Mayoral Elections in Bogotá, the race has reached its pivotal and conclusive week. With nine candidates vying for the position of the second most influential political seat in the nation, a diverse array of parties, coalitions, and independent movements are locked in a fierce competition to secure the hearts and minds of undecided voters.

After months of rigorous polling, the New Liberal candidate Carlos Fernando Galán has emerged as the frontrunner, trailed by either Gustavo Bolívar of the leftist Pacto Histórico or independent candidate Daniel Oviedo from the Con Toda por Bogotá movement.

While it appears that none of the candidates will reach the elusive 40% plus one vote threshold required for an outright victory on Sunday, October 29, Carlos Fernando Galán is poised to be the centrist contender for the decisive final round on November 19. Despite being only four percentage points away from the 40% mark, as per the most recent poll by the National Consulting Centre (CNC), the New Liberal candidate can’t take victory for granted in this highly competitive contest.

Particularly noteworthy is the possibility that the two right-wing candidates, former Defense Minister Diego Molano (Reconstruyamos Bogotá), and former National Police Chief General (ret.) Jorge Luis Vargas (Cambio Radical) will rally their bases behind Galán if they receive fewer votes than Bolívar or Oviedo. Both candidates who worked in the administration of former President Iván Duque have not been able to surpass 10% among voting intention. Molano has made citizen’s security his top priority and has promised to build mega-prisons for violent and repeat offenders.

Gustavo Bolívar occupies the second position in the polls, with 22%, an increase from the 20% he garnered in a previous survey. At present, the candidate from Pacto Histórico lags 15 percentage points behind the frontrunner, Carlos Fernando Galán.

The third spot is secured by Juan Daniel Oviedo, former director of the National Administrative Department of Statistics (DANE) and candidate for the Movimiento Con Toda por Bogotá. Oviedo has 17% in the CNC survey, firmly establishing himself in the third position among the pool of candidates. Oviedo has insisted that he is not the “candidate of Uribe or Petro,” and this has booted his popularity among the electorate.

The CNC survey also suggests that a runoff election is on the horizon. In a hypothetical second-round scenario pitting Galán against Bolívar, the two frontrunners, the survey indicates that Carlos Fernando Galán would secure 57% of the vote, while Gustavo Bolívar would receive 22%.

With a slate of experience among all candidates, including former Senators Rodrigo Lara (Lara Demócrata), and Jorge Robledo (Dignidad & Compromiso), the political arena to decide who will enter Palacio Liévano on January 1, 2024 has given a high degree of dynamism and debate on key issues concerning Bogotanos. As campaigns center on explaining their key agendas for a more sustainable and secure future, each candidate brings a unique vision to the challenges of the Bogotá Metro, enhancing public transportation infrastructure and promoting eco-friendly options to alleviate traffic congestion and reduce pollution.

Gustavo Bolívar from the Pacto Histórico has focused on prioritizing the completion of the Metro, as well as greater urban-regional connectivity with rail and tram alternatives. Both Bolívar and Lara have been staunch opponents of Mayor Claudia López’s “Green Corridor” along Carrera Séptima, while Galán has promised to follow through on “what has already been constructed”, and will modify the designs of the controversial mega-project.

Meanwhile, independent candidate Daniel Oviedo advocates greater connectivity of Bogotá’s more than 560-km of bicycle lanes, and more community-based policing and social programs to address poverty and root causes of crime. The three leading candidates on issues critical to the city’s future have outlined in detail their vision for a safer, more inclusive capital. They all agree on generating more employment opportunities for youngsters, especially vulnerable youth prone to recruitment by organized crime and illegal armed groups.

On Sunday, October 29, from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., Bogotá residents will have the opportunity to cast their votes in the Territorial Elections 2023. On this day, Bogotá residents will also elect city councilors and local representatives – Ediles – for each of the capital’s 20 localities.

The nine candidates in the race for the mayorship of Bogotá are:

Jorge Luis Vargas (Cambio Radical Party)

Diego Andrés Molano  (Reconstruyamos Bogotá)

Rodrigo Lara  (Lara Demócrata)

Nicolás Ramos  (Más Acciones Menos Rostros)

Carlos Fernando Galán (New Liberalism Party)

Gustavo Bolívar (Pacto Histórico Bogotá)

Rafael Alfonso Quintero (Movimiento Alianza Democrática Amplia)

Juan Daniel Oviedo (Con Toda por Bogotá)

Jorge Enrique Robledo (Dignidad & Compromiso Political Party)

The possibility of a runoff election was passed in 2019 as a legislative amendment of Article 323 in the Colombian Constitution. To be elected Mayor of Bogotá, a candidate must meet two key conditions:

Obtain at least 40% of the total votes cast in the election, through secret and direct balloting, and maintain a lead of at least 10 percentage points over the second-place candidate. Foreign residents of the city who hold a valid resident card can vote in the 2023 territorial elections.  A ban on the sale of alcohol will be in effect during voting day.