A majority of Colombians believe the removal of former Bogota Mayor Gustavo Petro from office will have a notable impact on upcoming presidential elections, according to a recent national poll.
Just over 57% of respondents said President Juan Manuel Santos’ decision last week to supersede an international court ruling and dismiss Petro will affect May’s contest “a lot,” reported W Radio, which carried out the poll along with the El Tiempo newspaper.
Of the 384 people surveyed across 13 major urban centers, including the capital itself, 20.8% indicated they felt the recent development would have “little” effect and 11.2% that it would have “none,” while the remainder did not know or did not respond.
Santos’ decision brought an end to a saga that had been developing since December, when Colombia’s inspector general ordered Petro’s removal from office, alleging “irregularities” in the ex-mayor’s conversion of Bogota’s waste management contracts to a public service.
Over the course of the next several months, Petro’s status as mayor hung in a sort of limbo, as various legal processes worked their way through Colombian and international courts, suspending the inspector general’s decision.
Then on March 19, President Santos signed off on a decree officially removing Petro from office, in spite of an order by the Inter-American Commission for Human Rights (IACHR) that Petro be allowed to remain until democratic elections could be held.
The W Radio poll did not ask participants what impact they thought the decision would have on the presidential race, in which Santos is currently the frontrunner, but Petro has gained widespread popularity throughout the country since his removal, which even many of Petro detractors have perceived as unjust.
While Petro’s removal has now been finalized, the public relations battle continues, as Santos attempts to implement an interim government and “emergency plan” for the city.
Petro loyalists continue to speak out against the measures, and the entire mayoral cabinet resigned in the wake of Petro’s removal. With scheduled mayoral elections now in doubt, many in the city feel deprived of their democratic rights.
Recent polls have shown a slight drop in Santos’ election stock following the removal, but no indications that the incumbent has taken a drastic hit because of his decision.