Americas This Week: June 19, 2021

June 19, 2021

Your weekly roundup of news and analysis of elections in the Americas, usually posted on Saturdays and occasionally updated throughout the week. For a full electoral calendar and interactive map, click here.

A polling station for Peru’s June 6 presidential runoff. Photo credit: Wikimedia/Txolo (CC BY-SA 4.0)

Upcoming Americas Elections

Argentina Provincial Elections in Misiones: June 6, 2021 and Jujuy: June 27, 2021, followed by Midterm Legislative Elections: November 14, 2021 (postponed from October)

Although most of the country’s 23 provinces hold their elections at the same time as presidential elections (which last took place in 2019 and are due again in 2023), a few are due to hold elections this year, ahead of midterm legislative elections due this fall.

Argentina’s 2021 elections – both provincial and legislative – are happening in the context of an economic crisis, which the leftist government and COVID-19 have exacerbated.

Rosario Ayerdi, Buenos Aires Times (June 19, 2021): Cristina Fernández de Kirchner spearheads midterms campaign – with an eye on libertarian-leaning youth

Haiti Parliamentary Elections: September 19, 2021 and Presidential Election: Due in November 2021 (delays possible)

Haiti plans to hold long-overdue legislative elections on September 19, 2021, and also has a presidential election due later this year. However, the country is currently in a political crisis related to allegations of fraud followed Haiti’s presidential 2015 election. The international community, including the United States government, has called on Haiti’s officials to set a date for elections and end the crisis.

Haiti had planned to hold a constitutional referendum on June 27, although the United States has raised concerns that it would just cause more political turmoil while helping President Jovenel Moïse consolidate power. The opposition has called for protests against the referendum, which it deems unconstitutional, and a boycott. Ultimately, Moïse decided to postpone the referendum indefinitely. More

UN News (June 17, 2021): Political impasse in Haiti, amid rising humanitarian needs, ahead of crucial elections

Chase Harrison, AS/COA (June 17, 2021): Constitutional Crisis and Crime Have Haiti on Edge: President Jovenel Moïse’s constitutional referendum stalled, but he’s found other ways to consolidate political power amid calls for his resignation.

Paraguay Municipal Elections: October 10, 2021

Paraguay holds local elections on October 10, 2021. On June 20, many of the political parties held primary elections. The federal government is led by President Mario Abdo Benítez from the conservative Colorado Party, which also won a majority in the lower house of the legislature in the 2018 elections (no party holds a majority in the Senate). Colorado has been in power most of the time since the 1950s.

Paraguay returned to democracy in 1989, following the collapse of the 35-year dictatorship of Alfredo Stroessner, but a number of issues remain. As a result, it is rated Partly Free by Freedom House.

The Rio Times (June 20, 2021): Paraguayan parties start elections for candidates for the municipal elections

Nicaragua General Elections: November 7, 2021

Nicaragua holds general elections on November 7, 2021. President Daniel Ortega, who has been in power for 20 years, will seek another term, and under his rule, Nicaragua has become increasingly authoritarian, with rule of law and fundamental freedoms under assault.

Several opposition candidates have been arrested, including Cristiana Chamorro, seen by many as the opposition’s best chance of ousting Ortega (in fact, her mother, Violeta Chamorro, beat Ortega in the 1990 election, becoming Nicaragua’s first – and currently only – female president and ending 11 years of Sandinista rule).

Diego Oré, Reuters (June 17, 2021): Veering from democracy, Nicaragua defies U.S. rebukes

Aline Hipolito, Rio Times (June 16, 2021): U.S. stresses that there are no conditions for “free elections” in Nicaragua

Claudia Torrens, AP (June 15, 2021): OAS condemns Nicaragua’s pursuit of political opponents

Wilfredo Miranda, The Guardian (June 15, 2021): Nicaragua rounds up president’s critics in sweeping pre-election crackdown

Chile Presidential and Legislative Elections: November 21, 2021

Chile holds presidential and legislative elections in November (with presidential primaries on July 4). These elections follow the May 2021 local elections, and importantly, elections to the Constitutional Assembly.

Incumbent president Sebastian Pinera, from the center-right Chile Vamos coalition, is not running for another term. He currently has low approval ratings, posing a challenge for his party’s candidate (who will be chosen in the July primary election). Moreover, the conservatives failed to secure even one third of the Constitutional Assembly. 

These elections are taking place in the context of a year of protests and riots, including violent looting, arson, and vandalism. Furthermore, an intense debate over the new constitution continues. More

Al Jazeera (June 20, 2021): Chile to begin drafting new constitution next month

Stratfor (June 16, 2021): Chile: Congress Reinstates Mandatory Voting for Most Elections

Colombia Legislative Elections: March 13, 2022 and Presidential Election: May 29, 2022

Colombia is due to hold presidential and legislative elections in spring 2022. Conservative Ivan Duque, elected president in 2018, is constitutionally barred from running for re-election. One of the frontrunners to replace him is former left-wing guerilla Gustavo Petro, who placed second in 2018. The country has been rocked by riots in recent weeks. The proximate cause was a tax bill, but the protests have grown – and grown violent – and dozens have died. 

Sergio Guzmán, Foreign Policy (June 20, 2021): Solutions for Colombia’s Social Unrest Are in Short Supply

Brazil Presidential and Legislative Elections: October 2, 2022

Brazil holds general elections in October 2022. Jair Bolsonaro, the right-wing populist firebrand president, is up for re-election. Former president Lula da Silva, himself a populist firebrand of the left-wing variety, will run against him. The country remains deeply polarized between right and left, although some are searching for a third candidate to challenge both Bolsonaro and Lula. More

Bryan Harris, Financial Times (June 17, 2021): Brazil’s Covid inquiry puts Bolsonaro on the back foot

Claudia Horn, Jacobin (June 15, 2021): Belém’s Left-Wing Mayor Could Have a Winning Formula for the Brazilian Left

The Economist (June 15, 2021 – podcast): “This is the clearest proof yet Bolsonaro is engaging in pork-barrel politics”—patronage in Brazil

Past Americas Elections

Peru Presidential Runoff: June 6, 2021

Peru held general elections for April 11, 2021. These elections are coming on the heels of snap legislative elections that took place on January 26, 2020, and in the context of political turmoil – including the impeachment of President Martín Vizcarra and the subsequent “week of three presidents” – and an economic crisis brought on by COVID-19.

The presidential runoff pitted self-described Marxist Pedro Castillo against right-wing populist Keiko Fujimori, daughter of former president Alberto Fujimori, who is currently in prison for various crimes (Keiko is also currently facing criminal charges). Castillo came out of nowhere to win the first round. However, none of the 18 candidates received more votes than the number of blank ballots cast – a sign of voters’ deep frustration.

It appears that Castillo won the runoff (by a margin of less than one percent). Fujimori is alleging fraud, but international observers largely dismissed that allegation. Nonetheless, an official winner won’t be declared until the courts rule on Fujimori’s claims. More

Brendan O’Boyle, Americas Quarterly (June 21, 2021): The “Shadowy Figure” Behind Peru’s Likely Next President

Reuters (June 19, 2021): Both sides in Peru’s contested election double down in weekend rallies

Charles Lane, Washington Post (June 15, 2021): Opinion: The tragic decay of a Latin American success story

Mexico Legislative, Gubernatorial, and Local Elections: June 6, 2021

Mexico held high-stakes midterm legislative elections, as well as gubernatorial elections in 15 of Mexico’s 31 states, and local elections, on June 6, 2021. In total, more than 21,000 offices are at stake – the biggest elections in Mexico’s history.

These elections were a key test for left-wing populist firebrand Andrés Manuel López Obrador (frequently called AMLO) ahead of the 2024 presidential election, and he largely lost – his MORENA party did not get its majority in the legislature, and although MORENA won most of the state governorships, it lost control of most areas of Mexico City. AMLO, who has been governing in an increasingly authoritarian manner, wants to transform Mexico by jettisoning the market economy, but these election results will make it harder for him to do that.

Meanwhile, political violence is on the rise, with at least 88 politicians killed and hundreds of candidates targeted. More

Mexico News Daily (June 19, 2021): Women in majority in 10 state legislatures, elected mayor in 25 major cities

Caran Zissis, World Politics Review (June 18, 2021): The Real Winner of Mexico’s Midterm Elections Wasn’t on the Ballot

Vanessa Rubio, Americas Quarterly (June 16, 2021): AMLO Already Got What He Wanted: The loss of his legislative supermajority will not reverse the Mexican president’s progress toward his ultimate goal: the expansion of state power.

Elena Reina, El País (June 14, 2021): The Mariana Rodríguez formula: how to get a candidate elected through social media ‘likes’

Curaçao Parliamentary Elections: March 19, 2021

Curaçao held parliamentary elections on March 19, 2021. Curaçao is a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. It has full autonomy over internal affairs, while the Dutch government handles foreign and defense policy, although the Netherlands periodically intervenes in Curaçao’s politics. More

Curaçao Chronicle (June 14, 2021): New Prime Minister of Curaçao Gilmar Pisas wants ‘less Kingdom’

El Salvador Legislative and Local Elections: February 28, 2021

El Salvador held legislative and local elections on February 28, 2021. Allies of populist president Nayib Bukele won in a landslide, allowing him to consolidate his hold on the country with a legislative majority. Critics note growing authoritarianism. More

Marcos Aleman, AP (June 14, 2021): USAID chief speaks of fragility of democracy in El Salvador

Bolivia Local Elections: March 7 and April 11, 2021

Bolivia held regional and municipal elections on March 7, 2021, and some races, including four gubernatorial races, held runoffs on April 11.

These followed a rerun of the 2019 annulled general elections that took place on October 18, 2020 in which socialist Luis Arce won the presidency. Leftist firebrand Evo Morales has returned to the country to lead his party, although apparently not every member of his party loves him. Opposition candidates won the mayoral elections in 8 out of 10 of Bolivia’s biggest cities. These elections happened amid political tension over the arrest of former interim president Jeanine Anez. More

Reuters (June 16, 2021): Bolivia opposition leader Mesa slams widening coup probe

Fernando Molina, El País (June 16, 2021 – in Spanish): Bolivia wants to bring former presidents Jeanine Áñez and Lenín Moreno before an international court

Americas Elections Coming Up in 2021 and 2022

Aruba Parliamentary Elections: June 25, 2021

Argentina Jujuy Provincial Elections: June 27, 2021

Argentina Salta Provincial Elections: August 15, 2021 (postponed from July 4, 2021)

Haiti Presidential and Legislative Elections, plus delayed constitutional referendum: September 26, 2021

Paraguay Municipal Elections: October 10, 2021

Saint Lucia General Elections: October 12, 2021

Nicaragua Presidential and Legislative Elections: November 7, 2021

Argentina Midterm Legislative Elections: November 14, 2021

Chile Presidential and Legislative Elections: November 21, 2021

Venezuela Regional and Local Elections: November 21, 2021

Honduras Presidential and Legislative Elections: November 28, 2021

Guyana Local Elections: Due in 2021

Costa Rica Presidential and Legislative Elections: February 6, 2022

Colombia Legislative Elections: March 13, 2022

Colombia Presidential Election: May 29, 2022

Bahamas Parliamentary Elections: May 2022 (due – snap elections possible)

Brazil Presidential and Legislative Elections: October 2, 2022

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