Eleven candidates have announced to run for Colombia’s presidency in
2010 if current president Uribe isn’t allowed to be re-elected.
Others are waiting to announce their candidacy until after the possible
sinking of the constitutional change needed for the President to go for
a third term.
Colombian Congress is currently debating the referendum held by coalition party Partido de la U that demands a constitution to be changed, allowing Uribe to run for a third term.
The approval of the constitutional change is not going as planned by the government though, because some coalition partners like the Conservative Party and Cambio Radical leader Vargas Lleras have their own ambitions and they may just decide to drop Uribe out of self interest.
Of the people who announced to run for the Presidency with or without Uribe, former Medellín mayor Sergio Fajardo has the most change. He enjoys great popularity in Antioquia, has already officially announced his candidacy and has traveled to 27 of Colombia’s 32 departments in the first leg of his campaign.
The Liberal Party, currently in the opposition, has several possible candidates. Former Defense minister Rafael Pardo and several of the party executives have announced to be interested in challenging Uribe and Fajardo in 2010. The only real change the Liberals have is the current leader of coalition party Cambio Radical, Vargas Lleras. He’s been flirting with his old political buddies and has the possibility of dealing a serious blow to the Uribista coalition swinging back to his old party.
Other opposition party Polo Democrático’s has two likely candidates. First is Gustavo Petro. He’s been one of the president’s fiercest critic and best known lawmaker of the social democrats. Second is former presidential candidate Carlos Gaviria, who knew to draw 22 percent of the votes in 2006. Former Bogotá mayor Luis Eduardo ‘Lucho’ Garzón has also shown interest in running for the country’s highest political post.
Within the coalition things are starting to become a little less solid than they have been the first six years of Uribe’s presidency. As mentioned, Cambio Radical chairman Lleras may go to the Liberals and also the Conservative Party has been openly shifting away from the Uribista benches. Former Interior and Justice Minister Carlos Holguín showed interest in running for President.
The coalition is hesitant to blow up the possible re-election of the still popular President Uribe though. His shine may have disappeared after devastating reports about human rights abuses, the bribery of Yidis Medina and the still growing scandal of paramilitaries using their intimidation methods to vote coalition members into Congress, but the President can still count on the approval of more than 70 percent of the constituency.
If Uribe is allowed to run in 2010, the coalition will try to stick together as good as they can and the patchwork of parties, all severely battered and disgraced by parapolitics,will support the current President.
If the re-election is sunk the coalition, more members of the Conservative Party will be likely to run. Agriculture Minister Andres Felipe Arias and Defense Minister Juan Manuel Santos showed interest and even the Partido de la U, Uribe’s most fanatic supporters within Congress will come up with its own candidate.