In a formal act, Santos’ entire cabinet resigned yesterday’s morning to give him freedom to restructure and improve his government team, and to further advance his agenda in his final year as president of Colombia. The president’s term in office has been characterized by abysmally low approval ratings and unpopular policies that have provoked protests across the country.
According to sources, a change in Santos’ cabinet would allow him to reboot talks with the opposition and potentially win him the support that he needs in order to be able to complete the peace accords. He is presently headed to a failure has his government has been unable to fulfill many of the conditions within the accords.
Santos also must consider the loss of support that a “lame duck” pre-electoral year represents. Many of those who have sided him, including presidential candidate Juan Carlos Pinzón, have tried to distance themselves from the president and his poor approval, attacking him on the periphery of some of his political policies.
Santos is also keen to manage a political succession, hoping that Colombians vote for a politician that can continue his legacy and support the peace process. Santos will likely place his bets on a center-left liberal from the “Party of the U” or “Polo Democrático”. Germán Vargas representing “Cambio Radical” is also an option for him. More than anything, he aims to ensure that Álvaro Uribe’s party, the “Centro Democrático”, do not win the elections.
The liberal party is currently running four candidates, Juan Fernando Cristo, Humberto de la Calle, Juan Manuel Galán and Viviane Morales. The “Party of the U” lost Juan Carlos Pinzón, who defected after tension with president Santos, leaving only Barreras as possible candidate. Conservatives seem to be united behind Marta Lucía Ramírez, while Uribe’s Centro Democrático party is a contest between Ivan Duque, Paloma Valencia and Carlos Holmes Trujillo.
In a new national poll released this week, Ivan Duque and Claudia López are the early frontrunners for the presidency.
Follow Colombia Focus’ coverage of the 2018 Colombian Presidential Election, with detailed candidate profiles.