Former-Vice President of Colombia Germán Vargas Lleras announced that his candidacy for the 2018 presidential election has surpassed two million signatures on October 20.
A leader of the conservative Radical Change Party (CR), Vargas Lleras stepped-down from the vice presidency in March in order to be a presidential candidate. Vargas Lleras is the only presidential candidate on the right of the Colombian spectrum to have his own political party and political machine.
Despite his popularity, the former vice president has been linked to scandal in Colombia for over a decade. In 2002, he was accused of bribing the Supreme Court with a group of congressmen on trial for supposed connections with rebel groups. Despite being the subject of investigations in both 2002 and 2013, he has never been convicted of corruption.
CR initiated an anti-FARC movement prior to the presidential and congressional elections of 2018. Vargas Lleras opposes the peace deal spearheaded by President Juan Manuel Santos.
Candidate Humberto de la Calle called Vargas Lleras a risk to peace in Colombia. In an interview with El Tiempo, he said, “He has a position of animosity towards the process that fell silent for seven years as minister and vice president of the Republic.”
Political scientist Vicente Torrijos asserts that Vargas Lleras’ candidacy may cause the right wing to expand since many of its members see it as the best way to restructure the Colombian political system.
The first round of the 2018 presidential elections will take place in May 2018. If no candidate wins a majority of the vote, a runoff will take place the following month.