It happened with Trump in the 2020 elections and in Peru in the 2021 presidential elections, now the adventure has shifted to Colombia with politicians exposing electoral fraud or talking about state deception without convincing evidence in hand. On both political fronts in dispute, right and left, there are leaders ready to alert their supporters to the electoral system and cause a dangerous political storm before knowing who will be the champion and who will be the loser.
The first reverse of the presidential election will take place next Sunday and the tension has skyrocketed. Some of the opponents of left-wing leader Gustavo Petro have announced a disappointment in the state without proof. Former conservative President Andrés Pastrana (1998-2002) published an open letter to President Iván Duque on Monday: “The disappointment of the state is over, Mr. President. Defeat him for the rights of Colombia”. Two days ago, candidate Petro said from the other political edict that the ‘enemies of democracy’ plan to ‘suspend the elections’. “They plan to suspend the bodies that control the electoral process,” he said. publicly capable.
In the midst of dialectical hostilities, some voices call for silence. Shortly after Pastrana’s letter, Bogotá Mayor Claudia López of the centrist Alianza Verde party called on a radio station for moderation. “There is no contradiction and there never will be, those who say this poison our democracy and our electoral process in an unfounded and valeverguist way.” Interior Minister Daniel Palacios also denied Petrismo’s fears of suspending the elections on Saturday: talking about extending or suspending the elections is absolutely false”.
The Election Observation Working Group, an independent body that ensures the transparency of the process, issued a statement to “make it absolutely clear that there is no constitutional or procedural figure that authorizes the suspension or postponement of the presidential election”. Sunday’s elections began this Monday abroad and could only be legally suspended in very exceptional cases, such as a natural disaster or a health emergency, explained the director of the Education Occupation, Alejandra Barrios, to the media. “The power of execution has made it clear that elections are happening because they are happening,” Barrios said in digital media Los Danieles.
Petro fears Registrar Alexander Vega could be suspended after filing a complaint against him over his performance in the March election, but Barrios assured the election would still take place. “The institutions are not the people, if there is a suspension, the elections will continue, the elections do not depend on the national civil status,” he explained.
Former President Pastrana, who knew how to antagonize the state, has not yet provided evidence, but cast his suspicions on the Spanish company Indra. The registrar commissioned the company to publish the first pre-count on Election Day and developed the software for the final count, which the state board of elections is responsible for. According to the former president, Indra is a company close to candidate Petro, and in the general elections in March gave his movement “a million votes or more”, which proved to be unfaithful and the result of a pre-count error. created Corrected juror data during official review.
The operation of the software has been debated for months precisely because of this gap between the initial results of the March legislative elections, reported by the Chancellor, and the total number of votes officially counted in the Francoist Electoral Council. . The thousands of lost votes claimed by Petro’s movement increased their seats, but they weren’t the only political movement affected by the gap (which also affected the New Progressivism).
The lack of transparency has raised legitimate questions about the pre-count process and the software that operates as a black box, and conspiracy theories can easily be generated in the darkness of the operation. This Tuesday, the Francoist Electoral Council said that although resources have been put in place for an independent audit of the software for the presidential elections, there is no time to ally with a company that does it. The black box then remains obscure and the breeding ground for conspiracies is fertile. According to a 40db survey conducted by EL PAÍS, 85% of Colombians have little or no confidence in electoral institutions.
But distrust is not the same as cheating. So far, there is no evidence that the March discrepancy is due to more than one bug. “There was never any question of Indra altering the outcome of an electoral process, our processes are arithmetic and professional,” the company’s representative said in the lawsuit against the Registrar.
a repeated story
Bizarro Valencia, director of the Peace and Reconciliation Foundation, is surprised by the complaints. “What amazes me is that this is said by Pastrana, son of former President Misael Pastrana (1970-1974), when the most serious fraud complaint made in Colombia is that of 1970, when his father won. And because of this experience, because of this simulation or supposed simulation of Pastrana, the M-19 movement was born (a maquis), of which Gustavo Petro is the agreed son, ”he explains. “In Colombia, the hiring of private companies to promote the elections has been criticized, but hardly anyone has the idea that the software is manipulated by the private sector, it’s a conspiracy theory”, adds -he.
Valencia, close to the left, claim that rumors have also spread from the Petrismo gang about the great distrust of government institutions. “Since President Duque has campaigned so forcefully for a candidate, as the prosecutor did when he suspended the corregidor of Medellín, all these political actors have created a circle of great concern, suspicion and rumors. Petro shares these rumours, but I think it’s more of a precaution than a certainty,” he says.
In fact, the measurement software in 2018 did not start from the right, but from the left: “If everything is transparent in the register, have you wondered why it does not allow a technical audit of its software? asked Petro in May 2018, during the presidential elections that year. In December 2020, calling for a new audit, he mentioned the possibility of a “mega-technological fraud in the 2022 elections”. without evidence that the custody coercion was broken and repeatedly mentioned “Uribe-sponsored state disadvantage”. In fact, there hasn’t been much talk about cheating since March.
According to a study by Green Lantern, a structure that studies the formation of public opinion on social networks, the novel of electoral fraud has been significantly alive in these elections compared to what happened four years ago. . “Comparing the public conversation on Facebook during the 2018 presidential election and the same period in 2022, we found that the number of posts about citizen account fraud increased 25-fold, and complaints from candidates, voters and media have also increased. more dominant in posts containing words associated with the campaign on Twitter,” the study said.
Without blockage, the novel is no longer controlled by petrism. Earlier this year, the right started embracing and spreading the idea of a potential scam. “Is the lord of the bags (about Petro) meeting the president of Indra?” asked Senator María Fernanda Acomodado of the Tolerant Center Party in February 2022. She was referring to a Petro meeting in Spain in which several Spanish companies participated, but without proof of a coincidence between the candidate and the president of Indra.
Shortly after, Pastrana also expressed doubts on his Twitter account, as did Senator Uribe Paloma Valencia. The conspiracy escalated until Conservative Party Vice President Marta Lucía Ramírez sent a letter to the corresponding Registrar about “recent comments by former Colombian President Andrés Pastrana Arango about the Indra company “. But despite the conflicting accusations, there is no evidence that the software is either Petrista, as the right-wing put it, or Uribista, as Petro put it.
“It’s secret to try not to automatically attribute to evil what you might reasonably imagine to be human incompetence,” reads another Green Lantern column of the reported debate. “When we all automatically jump to the idea of the great scam, there is no reason to analyze more calmly what proportion of the difference in votes is the result of a systematic bonus and what proportion is due to an error human,” he adds.
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