Americas This Week: March 18, 2023

March 18, 2023

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

Guatemala’s National Palace of Culture in Guatemala City. Photo credit: Wikimedia/Rob Mercatante (CC BY-SA 2.5)

Upcoming Americas Elections

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.

Valerie Wirtschafter and Arturo Sarukhan, Brookings Institution (March 16, 2023): Mexico takes another step toward its authoritarian past

AFP (March 16, 2023): Mexico president calls big rally with election on horizon

Carin Zissis, Americas Quarterly (March 14, 2023): Who is the Dark Horse in Mexico’s Presidential Race?

Guatemala General Elections: June 25, 2023

Guatemala’s last elections, in 2019, took place in a climate of chaos and uncertainty. Incumbent president Jimmy Morales, a comedian and political outsider, ran on an anti-corruption platform in 2015 but since being elected has repeatedly attacked the UN’s anti-corruption body CICIG after it started investigating his family members.

AP (March 16, 2023): Guatemala’s government arrests another former prosecutor

Sonia Pérez D., AP (March 15, 2023): Indigenous farmworker leader bids for Guatemala presidency

Argentina Presidential and Legislative Elections: October 22, 2023

Buenos Aires Herald (March 16, 2023): Jujuy governor Morales announces presidential campaign: Morales, also head of the Radical Civic Union party, called for an “end to kirchnerism”

Eduardo Levy Yeyati, Americas Quarterly (March 16, 2023): Can Argentina’s Time Bomb Be Defused?

Patrick Gillespie and Ignacio Olivera Doll, Bloomberg (March 15, 2023): 100% Inflation in Argentina Opens the Door for a Presidential Upset

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.

David Marcial-Pérez, El País (March 17, 2023): Bukele intensifies war on gangs: 2,000 more inmates transferred to ‘biggest prison in all America’

Al Jazeera (March 16, 2023): El Salvador extends emergency powers in year-long gang crackdown

Reuters (March 15, 2023): Salvadorans in poll favor Bukele for re-election despite constitutional ban

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

CBC News (March 17, 2023): Alleged meddling by China’s government goes deeper than elections: Hong Kong pro-democracy group in Canada

Reuters (March 15, 2023): Canada appoints investigator to probe alleged China election meddling

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, the opposition has initiated impeachment proceedings and some are calling for early elections.

Reuters (March 16, 2023): Ecuador opposition makes formal request to hold Lasso impeachment hearings

Honduras General Elections: November 28, 2021

Honduras held presidential and legislative elections on November 28, 2021, following the March 14 primaries. Leftist opposition candidate Xiomara Castro won the presidential race.

These elections took place in the context of polarization. The 2017 elections, which saw the controversial re-election of President Juan Orlando Hernández from the conservative National Party, were turbulent, with at least 30 people dying in protests over allegations of fraud. Hernández defeated Xiomara Castro, the wife of leftist former president Manuel Zelaya, who was ousted in 2009. Some feared post-election turmoil this year, but Nasry Asfura, the National Party’s candidate, conceded.

Brian Hioe, The Diplomat (March 16, 2023): Honduras Announces Intention to Drop Taiwan, Recognize China: President Xiomara Castro is making good on a campaign promise to switch diplomatic recognition to China.

Stephen Gibbs, Times of London (March 15, 2023): China tightens grip on Latin America as Honduras breaks from Taiwan

Americas Elections Coming Up in 2023

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

Antigua and Barbuda, Barbuda Council Election: March 29, 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

Guyana Local Elections: June 12, 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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