On the one hand, the constitution prohibits a Torres candidacy because she is a close relative of the president (Article 168). On the other hand, Torres' lawyers can claim that she is allowed to run because the constitution has another clause that guarantees the rights of all to participate in the elections. You can't prohibit someone from running for the presidency because a close relative of theirs had previously occupied the post (Washington Post). (Sorry, you just can't say that my lawyers told me it was legal. Where have we heard that one before?)
Neither President Colom nor Sandra Torres have said much about the constitutionality of her candidacy other that it's not a concern. The Guatemalan constitutional court, however, will most likely have to determine whether Torres can run.
In 2003, the court overturned a constitutional ban that prevented individuals who had come to power in a coup from becoming president. Even though the constitutional clause was initially directed towards Efrain Rios Mont, he ended up running for the president that year anyway. So it's not unheard of for the court to take actions that clearly seem to be contrary to the intent of the constitution.
Should the court rule against Torres, some have speculated that the Coloms could simply divorce in time for her to run in September. However, President Colom said today that divorce is not in the cards. He also said that his wife will be resigning from her responsibilities in overseeing the administration's Social Cohesion programs. Continuing these programs will be one of the more important agendas for Torres' campaign.
While I fully expected Torres to be UNE's candidate, I should have predicted that an announcement was imminent. In recent weeks there have been spontaneous and not-so-spontaneous manifestations around the country in support of her candidacy. An announcement was likely to follow. Torres said as much by saying that her decision to run for president followed the "public clamour" for her. Today's recongition as International Women's Day didn't hurt either.
Torres is now the eighth person who has announced his or her intention to run for president. She joins Otto Pérez Molina of the Partido Patriota, Harold Caballeros of Visión con Valores (VIVA) and the Encuentro por Guatemala (EG), Adela de Torrebiarte of the Acción de Desarrollo Nacional (ADN), Juan Gutiérrez of the Partido Acción Nacional (PAN), Manuel Baldizón of LIDER, Carlos Zúñiga of Centro de Acción Social (CASA) and Zury Ríos Montt of the Frente Republicano Guatemalteco (FRG). Just another half to one dozen to go.
Colom received 11% support in the most recent February poll gauging people's intentions to vote. Pérez Molina remained in the lead with 43%. As of today, these two are still the candidates most likely to place first and second. Colom's announcement will likely give her some bump in the polls but not nearly enough to close the gap with the front runner.