Friday, October 7, 2011

Everbody Against Peñalosa?

Enrique Peñalosa
and Parody -
all for one
& one for all?
With the alliance of candidates Antanas Mockus and Gina Parody into a single campaign headed by Parody, the campaign for mayor consolidated into a three-person race, led by Gustavo Petro and Enrique Peñalosa, with Parody close behind.

The Mockus-Parody union struck me as a bit strange. Mockus is a leftist who used public spirit to improve Bogotanos' behavior, while Parody's advisors include New York's law-and-order Mayor Rudolph Giuliani. Perhaps not surprisingly, the alliance didn't produce the hoped for results. Mockus's supporters went to all three leading candidates, leaving Parody in third place with 14% support in one poll. The biggest beneficiaries may have been Petro, who now has about 20% support, and the 'I don't knows' with 14%.

Now, El Tiempo reports that Conservative candidate Dionisio Araujo is also jumping onto Parody's campaign and that Petro and Parody may even team up. That would likely make their combined ticket unstoppable.

Peñalosa's solitude is surprising for a man whose mayoral term is generally seen as successful: he reclaimed public spaces, expanded the bike lanes system and started the express bus network, which successive mayors have expanded. But Peñalosa has a reputation as haughty and aloof, so it may be a personality issue as much as anything. But if he wins, perhaps that'll mean that he won't be beholden to anybody.

It's refreshing, at least, that all the leading players are seen as uncorrupt and well-intended. The campaign so far has been generally positive and carried out on a high level, focusing on real issues, such as crime, transit and quality of life.

With Bogotá sunk into chaos, congested traffic and lots of concerns about crime, the city needs a leader who can put it back on a positive track. Is that person Parody, who is young and unproven? Is it Petro, the one-time M-19 guerrilla? Or is it Peñalosa, whose previous administration earned him high approval ratings and put the city in order?

You can guess my opinion, and it's not just because Peñalosa (as well as Mockus) has rented bicycles from Bogotá Bike Tours.

By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours

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