The two main parties in the congress coalition of President Juan Manuel Santos, the Liberal Party and the U Party, on Monday expressed support for the head of state’s decision to ask veteran politician German Vargas to be his running mate in May’s election.
PROFILE: German Vargas
According to U party (Partido de la U) president Sergio Diaz-Granados, Vargas — a member of one of Colombia’s most powerful political dynasties — is “not only one of the most prepared Colombians to carry out this job, but is the Colombians’ guarantee that the second term of President Juan Manuel Santos will be focused on working for a more just society.”
The Liberal Party (Partido Liberal) also supported the union of the two politicians who were prominent members of the party until forming their own political platforms a decade ago when Vargas formed his Radical Change (Cambio Radical) party and Santos the U Party.
Party president Simon Gaviria was quoted as saying by RCN Radio that the Liberals’ endorsement for Santos’ reelection bid “comes without conditions regarding the vice-presidential formula. One of the exclusive powers of the vice-president [sic] is to choose a running mate to work with.”
Senate President and prominent Liberal Party politician Juan Fernando Cristo called on Santos’ coalition to unitedly support Vargas.
“I consider him the right man for the job. He’s someone who has shown efficiency, capacity and loyalty to President Santos. Moreover, he is a man who brings in votes,” Cristo was quoted as saying by radio station La FM.
Public support also seemed to favor Santos’ decision to name Vargas, who in recent approval ratings beat the president in popularity; According to pollster Centro Nacional de Consultoria, 56% of Colombians support the decision.
Santos was forced to seek a new running mate after sitting VP Angelino Garzon announced late last year he would not be joining Santos on the reelection campaign. The current VP, a former labor unionist, has been suffering health complications since taking office in 2010.
The president, who is in the middle of negotiating a peace deal with rebel group FARC to end 50 years of conflict, is seeking reelection to secure successful peace negotiations and to continue his policy he claims is aimed to reduce poverty in what has become Latin America’s most unequal country.
Vargas has been leading the Cambio Radical party since 2001 and has since been part of the administrations of Santos and that of former President Alvaro Uribe who he fell out with over Uribe’s desire to change the constitution to allow him a second reelection.