(CNN)Few politicians have a backstory like Sandra Torres, winner of the first round in Guatemala's presidential elections earlier this month, but the former first lady is no ordinary candidate.
Claims of corruption, drug trafficking and political divorce. Welcome to Guatemala's elections
In fact, these are no ordinary elections for Central America's most populous nation. With two front-runners barred from the race and a third candidate arrested by the DEA on drug smuggling charges, Guatemalan voters were left to choose from a fragmented field, several of whom have been accused of links to criminal gangs and corruption networks.
Torres, who is the candidate for the center-left Unidad Nacional de Esperanza (UNE) party, came in first place with more than 25% of the vote, according to preliminary results from the electoral tribunal, and will now face off against Alejandro Giammattei, the candidate for right-wing party Vamos who gained 14% of the vote, in a runoff vote on August 11. If she wins, Torres will become the first female president in socially conservative Guatemala, although she has previously exercised considerable power in the country.
From 2008-12 Torres was first lady to President Alvaro Colom, and ended up controlling many government social programs, according to Marielos Chang, a political scientist at the Universidad Francisco Marroquin in Guatemala City and co-founder of NGO Red Ciudadana, which aims to improve civic participation and strengthen institutions in Guatemala. Wielding considerable influence despite not being elected, Torres began to attract criticism due to a lack of transparency over funding.
"Her position as first lady, acting as an adviser rather than part of the executive, allowed her to protect herself from congressional scrutiny," said Chang. However Torres has claimed that she never had immunity, even when she was first lady, and says she is the most inv