Who will be President Santos’ candidate in 2018?
Colombia’s presumed Liberal Party candidate in the 2018 presidential election, Juan Manuel Galán, has attempted to present himself as a fresh option, and the candidate for change and reform while the presumed Conservative Party candidate, Humberto de la Calle, has called himself “the candidate of the President Juan Manuel Santos and of the Ex-Presidents Ernesto Saper and César Gavira”. But who exactly will current president Juan Manuel Santos support in the forthcoming election?
Santos, by all accounts, has been a very unpopular president. According to the most recent surveys, his approval rating is only barely in double digits at 12%. There is, therefore, risk in even receiving support from the current president. That said, there are likely three candidates who fit the bill as Santos’ potential successor, with a similar policy vision that can carry forward his legacy. The most likely three are Vice President Germán Vargas, Santos’ chief negotiator Humberto de la Calle, and former Ambassador of Colombia to the United States, Juan Carlos Pinzón. All three are from different political parties.
Pinzón is the only one of the three who does not support the country’s recent peace agreement with FARC terrorists, though Vargas was perhaps the most vocal critic of Santos while serving as Vice President. Nevertheless, he has opted to remain silent about the recent peace agreements and the country’s economic management. This silence and loyalty has likely earned him favor with Santos.
However the most likely candidate as Santos’ successor is indeed Humberto de la Calle, who has presented himself as a unifier who can bring the country together. He supports the agreements signed in Havana, but will be dueling for votes with those who supported the treaty with leftists that include Claudia López, convicted ex-M-19 terrorist Gustavo Petro and even centrist Sergio Fajardo.