Country Risk

Peace process and anti-corruption-related investigations likely to heavily influence Colombian political outlook ahead of 2018 presidential election

14 March 2017

Key Points

  • Top presidential contenders for the 2018 presidential election include the government's top peace negotiator Humberto de la Calle, and former Medellín mayor Sergio Fajardo.
  • A second-round run-off presidential vote is anticipated, with a pro-peace candidate likely to face a rival advocating a stricter approach to former insurgents.
  • An eventual victory for critics of the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (FARC) deal could lead to the rollback of some elements of the peace deal, but would be unlikely to lead to its wholesale revocation.


On 14 March, Vice-President Germán Vargas Lleras resigned from his post in a move widely interpreted as the first stage towards launching a 2018 presidential bid.

President Juan Manuel Santos and former interior minister and vice-president Germán Vargas Lleras in Bogotá, Colombia, on 28 July 2010. (PA)President Juan Manuel Santos and former interior minister and vice-president Germán Vargas Lleras in Bogotá, Colombia, on 28 July 2010. (PA)

Colombia's next presidential election is scheduled for 27 May 2018, with congressional elections due two months earlier. Although few political figures have formally announced their candidacy (they are unlikely to do so much in advance of the registration deadline in May), a handful of likely presidential hopefuls already enjoy favourable poll ratings. Of those expected to run for the presidency, Humberto de la Calle, the government's lead negotiator during peace talks with Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (FARC) insurgents, has the highest approval ratings, gaining the backing of 49% respondents in a Gallup poll published on 2 March. Sergio Fajardo, a former mayor of Medellín who is also broadly supportive of the peace agreement, has the second-highest approval rating, with 44%. Germán Vargas Lleras, the outgoing vice-president, has fallen to third position with 40%, down substantially from his 61% approval rating in December 2016. Running against these likely candidates will also be the eventual candidate from the Democratic Centre (Centro Democratico: CD) party, led by former president Álvaro Uribe. The enduring support of Uribe - who headed up the successful campaign to defeat an earlier version of the peace deal at a referendum in October 2016 - together with the continued discontent of many Colombians with the peace process, means that the CD party's eventual candidate is likely to reach an anticipated second-round run-off for the presidency.

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