Americas This Week: March 4, 2023

March 4, 2023

A weekly review of news and analysis of elections in the Americas, usually posted on Saturdays and occasionally updated throughout the week.

The Acropolis at Ek Balam, Mayan ruins in Mexico. Photo credit Wikimedia/Adam D. Jones, PhD (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Upcoming Americas Elections

United States, Chicago Mayoral Runoff: April 4, 2023

Chicago held the first round of its mayoral election on February 28 and incumbent Lori Lightfoot was ousted, largely over concerns about crime. The runoff is set for April 4. Both candidates in the runoff are Democrats, but are presenting vastly different platforms. Paul Vallas supports school choice and stronger police, whereas Cook County Commissioner Brandon Johnson has worked for the teachers unions and is on the record as supporting the movement to defund the police.

Shia Kapos, Politico (March 2, 2023): Chicago’s bitter election is now a nasty runoff

Mexico, Some Gubernatorial Elections: June 4, 2023, followed by General Elections: July 2024

Some Mexican states are holding gubernatorial elections this year, but the country’s politicos are all gearing up for the big presidential election in 2024. Populist firebrand Andrés Manuel López Obrador (often called AMLO) stormed to election in 2018, but he is barred from seeking another term. There had been some talk of him potentially trying to run again anyway, but he now says he will not. But concerns about growing authoritarianism remain.

Arturo McFields Yescas, The Hill (March 4, 2023): Does Mexico want to be the next Nicaragua?

Anne Applebaum, The Atlantic (March 1, 2023): How Do You Stop Lawmakers From Destroying the Law?

AP (February 27, 2023): Tens of thousands protest Mexico’s electoral law changes

Chile Constitutional Council Elections: May 7, 2023 Constitutional Referendum: November/December (expected)

Following protests starting in 2019, an elected group of Chileans drafted a new constitution in 2022. The group produced one of the world’s most left-wing proposed constitutions in the world, but voters rejected it by a large margin. 

Subsequently, lawmakers agreed to restart the process. Therefore, Chile will hold elections for a new constituent assembly in April or May, with  a referendum on the draft constitution that body produces expected in November or December.

Meanwhile, Chile’s left-wing president, Gabriel Boric, who took office in March 2022, has an approval rating of only 25 percent.

GZERO (March 3, 2023): Second time the charm for new Chilean constitution?

Nathaniel Janowitz, Vice (March 1, 2023): Chile Is Sending Its Military to the Border to Stop Illegal Immigration

Argentina Presidential and Legislative Elections: October 22, 2023

Agustino Fontevecchia, AP (February 28, 2023): Who Is Who In Argentina’s Fragmented Political Field: A Guide To Understand The 2023 Presidential Elections

Colombia Regional Elections: October 29, 2023

In 2022, Colombia elected its first-ever leftist president, Gustavo Petro. In concurrent legislative elections, however, no party won a majority and centrists did not perform well. Ironically given his name, Petro pledged to end oil exploration.

Colombian politics are polarized and the climate is tense.

Astrid Suárez (March 3, 2023): Accusations against relatives a blow to Colombian president

Adriaan Alsema, Colombia Reports (March 2, 2023): Petro sacks three ministers ahead of Colombia’s local elections

El Salvador General Elections: February 4, 2024

El Salvador has seen an increase in authoritarianism under President Nayib Bukele, a populist elected in 2019. Bukele, a millennial in a baseball cap, is not affiliated with either ARENA or the FMLN, El Salvador’s two dominant parties on the right and left respectively. 

In 2021, Bukele’s allies won the legislative elections in a landslide, allowing him to consolidate his hold on the country with a legislative majority. Since then, he has ramped up his attacks on critics and the press. He has announced that he is running for re-election in 2024, following a decision by the country’s Supreme Court to scrap a ban on presidents running for a consecutive second term.

Andres Oppenheimer, Miami Herald (March 3, 2023): El Salvador’s ‘cool’ dictator has cracked down on gangs, but is he really a hero?

Venezuela Opposition Presidential Primary: October 22, 2023 (presidential election due in 2024)

Venezuela’s politicalconstitutional, and humanitarian crises have been going on for years. The country became an authoritarian state under the now-deceased Hugo Chavez, who was elected in 1998 and completely transformed the country from a prosperous democracy to a leftist dictatorship. His successor, Nicolás Maduro, has continued on that path. Socialist economic policies have destroyed the economy. Although Venezuela is a major oil producer, 90 percent of Venezuelans cannot afford sufficient food and many have fled. Moreover, the capital, Caracas, has become one of the most violent cities in the world.

Nonetheless, Venezuela’s opposition is active and occasionally makes gains.

Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and subsequent sanctions, U.S. officials have begun to court the Venezuelan regime.

Michael Stott, Joe Daniels, and Vanessa Silva, Financial Times (March 4, 2023): How Venezuela’s Nicolás Maduro outfoxed the west

Regina Garcia Cano, AP (March 3, 2023): A decade under Maduro, migration marks Venezuelans’ lives

Alonso Moleiro, El País (February 27, 2023): What is in store for María Corina Machado, the ‘iron lady’ of the Venezuelan opposition?

Canada Federal Elections: Due by October 2025 – snap elections possible (various provincial and local elections due between now and then)

Zi-Ann Lum, Politico (March 3, 2023): Trudeau rejects calls for public inquiry into Chinese election interference

David Lazzam, Jurist (March 2, 2023): Canada police will not investigate foreign attempts to influence 2021 federal elections

Ari Blaff, National Review (February 28, 2023): Chinese Billionaire Made $1 Million Donation to Trudeau Charity Following Election that Brought Liberals to Power

National Post Canada (February 25, 2023): Trudeau incapable of responding like an adult to Chinese election interference

Past Americas Elections

Ecuador Regional and Local Elections: February 5, 2023

Ecuador held local and regional elections on February 5, as well as a referendum on constitutional amendments backed by President Guillermo Lasso. Lasso, who is center-right, was elected in a close runoff in 2021 in one of the handful of Latin American elections that resisted the “pink tide.” He is up for re-election in 2025.

The elections dealt a blow to Lasso, with the leftist opposition winning most major cities, including the port of Guayaquil, the country’s biggest city, which the right had controlled since the 90s. Now, some are calling for Lasso’s impeachment and/or early elections. 

Reuters (March 4, 2023): Ecuador Assembly Backs Report Calling for Lasso Impeachment

Bnarmericas (March 2, 2023): Ecuador’s political uncertainty spooks investors

Peru General Elections: April 11, 2021 (early elections could be set for April or December 2024)

Joe Schneider, Bloomberg (March 1, 2023): Peru’s Ex-President Says He’ll Surrender If Extradition Ordered

Americas Elections Coming Up in 2023

Guyana Local Elections: March 13, 2023

Argentina, Gubernatorial Elections in Corrientes and Neuquen: March 26, 2023

Paraguay Presidential, Legislative, and Gubernatorial Elections: April 30, 2023

Chile Constitutional Council Elections: May 7, 2023

Canada, Alberta Provincial Elections: May 29, 2023

British Virgin Islands Assembly Election: May 2023 (due)

Mexico, Some Gubernatorial Elections: June 4, 2023

Guatemala General Elections: June 25, 2023

Argentina Presidential Primary: August 13, 2023

Guatemala General Election Runoffs: August 27, 2023

Canada, Prince Edward Island Provincial Elections: October 2, 2023

Canada, Manitoba Provincial Elections and Northwest Territories Territorial Elections: October 3, 2023

Argentina Presidential and Legislative Elections: October 22, 2023

Venezuela Opposition Presidential Primary: October 22, 2023

Colombia Regional Elections: October 29, 2023

Argentina Presidential Runoff: November 19, 2023

Dominica Indirect Presidential Election (by parliament): October 2023 (due)

Chile Constitutional Referendum: November/December 2023 (expected)

Trinidad and Tobago Local Elections: December 20, 2023

Haiti Presidential and Legislative Elections: Long overdue, but could happen in 2023 (delayed from November 7, 2021, no new date set)

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