Article 1 of the Constitution declares that Colombia is a democratic and participatory state. This means that the holder of sovereignty is the people, and that, therefore, the citizens – holders of political rights – depend on transcendental decisions about what is most in the interest of society. It is the citizenry, through suffrage and other participation mechanisms, which, ultimately -in the opportunities indicated by previously established norms- decides and traces the course of the state organization.
The Constitutional Court has rightly held:
“Participatory democracy seeks to grant citizens the certainty that they will not be excluded from the debate, analysis or resolution of the factors that affect their daily lives, nor from the political processes that compromise the collective future. The Constitution assumes that each citizen is an active part in determinations of a public nature and that they have something to say in relation to them, which generates true rights protected by the Political Charter, whose regulations set forth the appropriate mechanisms for their exercise” (Sentence C -021/96)
“Participation as a right of citizens and the core of the current constitutional order implies: (i) the duty of the State to refrain from adopting measures of any kind that prevent the free exercise of participation by citizens and social organizations, (ii) ) the duty to adopt measures of all kinds that prevent public authorities or individuals from interfering or affecting the free exercise of the powers in whose exercise participation is manifested and (iii) the duty to implement measures that seek to optimize the development of the various forms of participation and that, at the same time, avoid going back unjustifiably in the levels of protection achieved”. (Sentence C-150/15)
On May 29, we Colombians will decide at the polls -in the true and real poll, not manipulated- who will be president and vice president of the Republic.
A series of unfortunate events, such as the recent armed strike, generalized violence, the unconstitutional modification of the Statutory Law of Electoral Guarantees, the administrative suspension -automatic and without the right of defense- of popularly elected mayors and their replacement with officials dependent on the Government National, the ostensible rupture of the presidential impartiality, the intervention in politics of the Army commander, the announcement of some employers, saying that they will “punish” workers who vote for a certain candidate with dismissal, and the irregularities of the electoral system during the elections of congressmen -among other phenomena- have generated concern and distrust among citizens.
It is to be hoped, for the benefit of democracy, that this time the Registrar’s Office avoids the errors and disorder of past elections; that the National Government recover the impartiality that it has always had to observe and guarantee the exercise of political rights in equal conditions; what guerrillas, drug traffickers and paramilitaries allow the elections to take place in a peaceful climate; that employers and those who run public entities refrain from any interference in the voting of employees and workers; that there is a great democratic participation, regardless of the political and ideological inclinations of each one; that we all vote freely and fully autonomously, seriously and responsibly.