June 15, 2019

Each day, 21votes gathers election and political news from a different region of the world. We explore the Americas on Saturdays. Click the map pins.

Guatemala Presidential, Legislative, Local - June 16, 2019 (Second round August 11, 2019)

These elections are taking 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. In May 2019, two out of the three leading presidential candidates were disqualified by the Constitutional Court: Thelma Aldana, a former attorney general who jailed hundreds for corruption, and Zury Rios, daughter of the former dictator. The remaining candidates are largely unknown and have campaigned on “family values” at a time when voters care more about corruption.

Additionally, all 158 seats in the unicameral Congress are up for election. Twenty percent of the incumbents are under investigation for corruption, and 92 percent of Guatemalans do not trust their legislature.

Andrea Castillo, Laura Boyette, Danielle Turner, International Republican Institute’s Democracy Speaks: “Field Report: Guatemala’s June 16 General Elections”

Maria Inés Taracena, Remezcla: “This year’s presidential election in Guatemala is crowded with mostly unknown candidates and few recognizable names – such as Sandra Torres, the runner-up in the 2015 election – who are either drowning in corruption allegations, have possible ties to drug traffickers, or are greedy political nobodies who have nothing new to offer.”

Sonia Pérez D, Associated Press: “The road to Sunday’s presidential election in Guatemala has been a chaotic flurry of court rulings and shenanigans, illegal party-switching and allegations of malfeasance that torpedoed the candidacies of two of the top three candidates. Observers say the result is widespread disillusion and distrust in the electoral process in this small Central American country that has seen hundreds of thousands flee poverty and gang violence in recent years in a bid for a new life in the United States.”

Andrew Thompson, World Politics Review: “The elections are uniquely volatile for many reasons, but perhaps most of all because corruption and crime remain deeply entrenched in the Guatemalan political system.”

Nina Lakhani, The Guardian: “Thelma Cabrera: indigenous, female and shaking up Guatemala’s election. The campesino leader is running for president in a country whose indigenous majority is chronically overlooked – and she has a chance of making the runoff”

Holly K. Sonneland, Americas Society/Council of the Americas: “Poll Update: Guatemala’s 2019 Presidential Race”

Mark L. Schneider, Washington Post: “Guatemala’s election may hold the answer to solving the migration crisis”

Guyana Snap Elections - Due by July 2019, but could be delayed or cancelled

In December 2018, the government of David Grangers’s People’s National Congress lost a no-confidence motion, and snap elections were supposed to happen within three months. Litigation has delayed the date for new polls – the government is challenging the no-confidence motion in court. This political turmoil is happening in the context of potentially seismic economic changes for Guyana due to the discovery of oil. Guyana could soon go from South America’s second-poorest country to a petrostate as rich as Qatar, raising the political stakes.

Both parties naturally want to be in power when the oil money starts coming in. The main opposition People’s Progressive Party (PPP), mostly an Indian-Guyanese party that espouses communism as its ideology, was in power from 1992-2015. Granger’s party – ideologically socialist – is mostly supported by Afro-Guyanese. 

Denis Chabrol, Demerara Waves: “Director-General of the Ministry of the Presidency, Joseph Harmon said Friday that the Guyana government would abide by next week Tuesday’s judgments on whether last December’s no-confidence motion is valid and if President David Granger’s unilateral appointment of James Patterson as Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) is unconstitutional.”

Venezuela - Ongoing Crisis

Zoe Daniel, ABC (Australia) News: “Venezuela’s Juan Guaido promises fresh elections as humanitarian crisis worsens”

Francis O. Moro, Council on Foreign Relations: “Stabilizing Venezuela: Scenarios and Options: The Venezuelan crisis threatens the interests and security of the United States and Venezuela’s neighbors. The United States and regional partners need to provide humanitarian relief and security assistance and accelerate change to a post-Maduro democracy.”

Canada Parliamentary - October 21, 2019

Kaleigh Rogers, CBC News: “Many resurrected stories are benign — like this one about a knife-stealing crow that recently saw a spike of traffic — but some cover divisive or political topics. Without the context of when the story was published, online posts that share these stories can be misleading — and may stoke discord ahead of Canada’s federal election in October.”

Bouchra Ouatik and Jeff Yates, CBC News: “Fake online stories claim Trudeau begged foreign leaders ‘to send him a million immigrants. Story was circulated so widely in Nigeria that Ottawa was forced to deny it”

Argentina Presidential and Legislative - October 27, 2019

On the presidential front: Incumbent Maucirio Macri from the center-right Cambiemos – the first non-Peronist since 1928 to complete a presidential term – faces off against former president Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, who surprised everyone by announcing that she was running for vice president on a ticket headed by Alberto Fernández. The election could go either way. Macri has had difficulty delivering on his economic promises, while Kirchner faces criminal charges related to corruption during her time in office. Provincial elections are also taking place throughout the year.

Nicolás Misculin, Reuters: “The main ticket opposing Argentine President Mauricio Macri in elections scheduled for October struck a formal alliance on Wednesday with Sergio Massa, a key centrist political figure, a move that could prove crucial in the tight race.”

Sydney Mackey, Bloomberg: “The Argentine peso, long famed as the world’s worst performing currency, posted its biggest gain since April after President Mauricio Macri unveiled an opposition leader as his running mate in October’s vote, potentially broadening his appeal and boosting his chances of reelection.”

Stratfor: “Argentina: Macri Picks a Peronist Vice Presidential Candidate”

Benedict Mander, Financial times: “Macri battles to prevent return of ‘Kirchnerismo’ in Argentina. President unveils infrastructure projects to build support from disenchanted voters for October elections”

Mark P. Jones, Forbes: “Provincial Elections At The End Of The World In Argentina’s Tierra Del Fuego: On June 16 Tierra del Fuego will hold elections for its governor and provincial legislature….[Since] both candidates are strong supporters of Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, the former president will be well represented in the winner’s circle on either June 16 or 23.”

Colombia Local - October 27, 2019

Adriaan Alsema, Colombia Reports: “Deadly political violence in Colombia spiked in May after months of decline, according to conflict monitor CERAC. According to CERAC, politically motivated violence particularly targeted local political activists and leaders of rural community councils.”

Richard Emblin, City Paper Bogota: “The Bogotá mayoral race is picking up momentum ahead of the crucial October 27 vote with eight candidates so far launched…..Every four years Bogotá’s future seems to hang in the balance, and this year is no exception with a race as contentious as four years ago when current mayor Enrique Peñalosa ended with three administrations of left-wing mayors militating with Polo Democrático – one of them, Samuel Moreno Rojas, serving a prison sentence on corruption charges.”

Sergio Guzmán, Americas Quarterly: “National unity is all the less likely given [President Iván] Duque’s position ahead of local elections in October. Opposition parties are in no mood to do favors for an unpopular government – Duque’s approval rating has decreased steadily from 43.2% in March to 31.6% in May, according to data from Colombia Risk Analysis’ Presidential Favorability Monthly Index (IMFP).”

El Salvador Presidential - February 3, 2019

Populist Nayib Bukele won a historic election in February to become the first president in the history of El Salvador’s democracy to come from outside of the country’s two main parties.

Melissa Vida, America: The Jesuit Review: “Almost 75 percent of the Salvadoran people believe that the new administration is “very capable, or somewhat capable” of improving El Salvador’s security, according to a recent poll conducted by the Jesuit-run José Simeón Cañas Central American University. At his inauguration, young people, farmers, war veterans and former members of F.M.L.N. guerrilla forces pledged allegiance to the new president.”

Upcoming Elections
Guatemala Presidential, Legislative, Local – June 16, 2019 (Second round August 11, 2019)
These elections are taking 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. In May 2019, two out of the three leading presidential candidates were disqualified by the Constitutional Court: Thelma Aldana, a former attorney general who jailed hundreds for corruption, and Zury Rios, daughter of the former dictator. The remaining candidates are largely unknown and have campaigned on “family values” at a time when voters care more about corruption.

Additionally, all 158 seats in the unicameral Congress are up for election. Twenty percent of the incumbents are under investigation for corruption, and 92 percent of Guatemalans do not trust their legislature.

Andrea Castillo, Laura Boyette, Danielle Turner, International Republican Institute’s Democracy Speaks: “Field Report: Guatemala’s June 16 General Elections”

Maria Inés Taracena, Remezcla: “This year’s presidential election in Guatemala is crowded with mostly unknown candidates and few recognizable names – such as Sandra Torres, the runner-up in the 2015 election – who are either drowning in corruption allegations, have possible ties to drug traffickers, or are greedy political nobodies who have nothing new to offer.”

Sonia Pérez D, Associated Press: “The road to Sunday’s presidential election in Guatemala has been a chaotic flurry of court rulings and shenanigans, illegal party-switching and allegations of malfeasance that torpedoed the candidacies of two of the top three candidates. Observers say the result is widespread disillusion and distrust in the electoral process in this small Central American country that has seen hundreds of thousands flee poverty and gang violence in recent years in a bid for a new life in the United States.”

Andrew Thompson, World Politics Review: “The elections are uniquely volatile for many reasons, but perhaps most of all because corruption and crime remain deeply entrenched in the Guatemalan political system.”

Nina Lakhani, The Guardian: “Thelma Cabrera: indigenous, female and shaking up Guatemala’s election. The campesino leader is running for president in a country whose indigenous majority is chronically overlooked – and she has a chance of making the runoff”

Holly K. Sonneland, Americas Society/Council of the Americas: “Poll Update: Guatemala’s 2019 Presidential Race”

Mark L. Schneider, Washington Post: “Guatemala’s election may hold the answer to solving the migration crisis”

Guyana Snap Elections – Due by July 2019, but could be delayed or cancelled
In December 2018, the government of David Grangers’s People’s National Congress lost a no-confidence motion, and snap elections were supposed to happen within three months. Litigation has delayed the date for new polls – the government is challenging the no-confidence motion in court. This political turmoil is happening in the context of potentially seismic economic changes for Guyana due to the discovery of oil. Guyana could soon go from South America’s second-poorest country to a petrostate as rich as Qatar, raising the political stakes.

Both parties naturally want to be in power when the oil money starts coming in. The main opposition People’s Progressive Party (PPP), mostly an Indian-Guyanese party that espouses communism as its ideology, was in power from 1992-2015. Granger’s party – ideologically socialist – is mostly supported by Afro-Guyanese. 

Denis Chabrol, Demerara Waves: “Director-General of the Ministry of the Presidency, Joseph Harmon said Friday that the Guyana government would abide by next week Tuesday’s judgments on whether last December’s no-confidence motion is valid and if President David Granger’s unilateral appointment of James Patterson as Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) is unconstitutional.”

Canada Parliamentary – October 21, 2019
Kaleigh Rogers, CBC News: “Many resurrected stories are benign — like this one about a knife-stealing crow that recently saw a spike of traffic — but some cover divisive or political topics. Without the context of when the story was published, online posts that share these stories can be misleading — and may stoke discord ahead of Canada’s federal election in October.”

Bouchra Ouatik and Jeff Yates, CBC News: “Fake online stories claim Trudeau begged foreign leaders ‘to send him a million immigrants. Story was circulated so widely in Nigeria that Ottawa was forced to deny it”

Argentina Presidential and Legislative – October 27, 2019
On the presidential front: Incumbent Maucirio Macri from the center-right Cambiemos – the first non-Peronist since 1928 to complete a presidential term – faces off against former president Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, who surprised everyone by announcing that she was running for vice president on a ticket headed by Alberto Fernández. The election could go either way. Macri has had difficulty delivering on his economic promises, while Kirchner faces criminal charges related to corruption during her time in office. Provincial elections are also taking place throughout the year.

Nicolás Misculin, Reuters: “The main ticket opposing Argentine President Mauricio Macri in elections scheduled for October struck a formal alliance on Wednesday with Sergio Massa, a key centrist political figure, a move that could prove crucial in the tight race.”

Sydney Mackey, Bloomberg: “The Argentine peso, long famed as the world’s worst performing currency, posted its biggest gain since April after President Mauricio Macri unveiled an opposition leader as his running mate in October’s vote, potentially broadening his appeal and boosting his chances of reelection.”

Stratfor: “Argentina: Macri Picks a Peronist Vice Presidential Candidate”

Benedict Mander, Financial times: “Macri battles to prevent return of ‘Kirchnerismo’ in Argentina. President unveils infrastructure projects to build support from disenchanted voters for October elections”

Mark P. Jones, Forbes: “Provincial Elections At The End Of The World In Argentina’s Tierra Del Fuego: On June 16 Tierra del Fuego will hold elections for its governor and provincial legislature….[Since] both candidates are strong supporters of Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, the former president will be well represented in the winner’s circle on either June 16 or 23.”

Colombia Local – October 27, 2019
Adriaan Alsema, Colombia Reports: “Deadly political violence in Colombia spiked in May after months of decline, according to conflict monitor CERAC. According to CERAC, politically motivated violence particularly targeted local political activists and leaders of rural community councils.”

Richard Emblin, City Paper Bogota: “The Bogotá mayoral race is picking up momentum ahead of the crucial October 27 vote with eight candidates so far launched…..Every four years Bogotá’s future seems to hang in the balance, and this year is no exception with a race as contentious as four years ago when current mayor Enrique Peñalosa ended with three administrations of left-wing mayors militating with Polo Democrático – one of them, Samuel Moreno Rojas, serving a prison sentence on corruption charges.”

Sergio Guzmán, Americas Quarterly: “National unity is all the less likely given [President Iván] Duque’s position ahead of local elections in October. Opposition parties are in no mood to do favors for an unpopular government – Duque’s approval rating has decreased steadily from 43.2% in March to 31.6% in May, according to data from Colombia Risk Analysis’ Presidential Favorability Monthly Index (IMFP).”

Venezuela – Ongoing Crisis
Zoe Daniel, ABC (Australia) News: “Venezuela’s Juan Guaido promises fresh elections as humanitarian crisis worsens”

Francis O. Moro, Council on Foreign Relations: “Stabilizing Venezuela: Scenarios and Options: The Venezuelan crisis threatens the interests and security of the United States and Venezuela’s neighbors. The United States and regional partners need to provide humanitarian relief and security assistance and accelerate change to a post-Maduro democracy.”

Past Elections
El Salvador Presidential – February 3, 2019
Populist Nayib Bukele won a historic election in February to become the first president in the history of El Salvador’s democracy to come from outside of the country’s two main parties.

Melissa Vida, America: The Jesuit Review: “Almost 75 percent of the Salvadoran people believe that the new administration is “very capable, or somewhat capable” of improving El Salvador’s security, according to a recent poll conducted by the Jesuit-run José Simeón Cañas Central American University. At his inauguration, young people, farmers, war veterans and former members of F.M.L.N. guerrilla forces pledged allegiance to the new president.”

The Year Ahead: Americas
Mexico gubernatorial and local in Baja California and Puebla, local in Baja California, Durango, Aguascalientes, Tamaulipas and Quintana Roo (June 2); Guatemala general (June 16); Bolivia presidential and legislative (October); Haiti parliamentary (October); Canada, Prince Edward Island province general and Northwest Territories parliamentary (on or before October 7 – exact date not set yet); Canada, Labrador and Newfoundland provincial (October 8); Bolivia presidential and legislative (October 20); Canada general (on or before October 21 – exact date not set yet); Argentina presidential and legislative (October 27); Uruguay presidential and legislative (October 27); Colombia local (October 27); Guyana snap parliamentary (November); Trinidad and Tobago local (November) Dominica legislative (December); St. Kitts and Nevis legislative (February)


Rural Guatemalan votes with their fingers inked to show they voted. Photo credit: USAID/Maureen Taft-Morales (Public domain)

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