Americas This Week: June 26, 2021

June 26, 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 street in Asunción, capital of Paraguay. Paraguay holds municipal elections in October. Photo credit: Wikimedia/Bruno Arriola (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Upcoming Americas Elections

Haiti Parliamentary and Presidential Elections: September 26, 2021 (delays possible)

Haiti plans to hold long-overdue legislative elections on September 26, 2021, along with a a presidential election. 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

John Milo, Foreign Brief (June 27, 2021): Controversial Haitian referendum postponed

The Economist (June 24, 2021): Haiti’s crisis appears to be getting worse: The postponement of a referendum is bad news for President Jovenel Moïse

Reuters (June 24, 2021): Haiti gang leader launches ‘revolution’ as violence escalates

Jacqueline Charles, Miami Herald (June 22, 2021): Pressure Builds For CARICOM To Step In, As Haiti’s Political Crisis Worsens

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.

Rio Times (June 22, 2021): Former Paraguayan president Cartes denounces “interference” of Abdo Benítez in new Congress

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

Javier Sajuria and Julieta Suarez-Cao June 24, 2021, Washington Post (June 24, 2021): Chile elected delegates to draft a new constitution — and it’s not tilted toward the elites – Chilean political parties suffered a big blow: 40 percent of the votes went to independent candidates. Here’s what that means.

TRT World (June 24, 2021): Chile may have a president of Palestinian origin

Cristóbal Rovira Kaltwasser, World Politics Review (June 21, 2021): Chile’s Constitutional Convention Reflects the Country—for Better and Worse

Buenos Aires Times (June 21, 2021): Chile to begin writing its new constitution on July 4, says Piñera

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 to date only – female president and ending 11 years of Sandinista rule).

Kevin Sieff, Claire Parker and Gabriela Martínez, Washington Post (June 26, 2021): Prominent Nicaraguan opposition leaders and journalists flee an escalating government crackdown

Al Jazeera (June 26, 2021): Nicaragua: Police arrest brother of opposition leader Chamorro

Kevin Casas-Zamora, Americas Quarterly (June 24, 2021): Nicaragua: Chronicle of a Death Foretold: Ortega has been dismantling democracy for more than a decade. He is emboldened by impunity.

Committee to Protect Journalists (June 23, 2021): Nicaraguan police detain journalist Miguel Mendoza for alleged treason

Inés San Martín, Crux (June 23, 2021): Church leaders preach peace in Nicaragua as they face threats from Ortega regime

Reuters (June 21, 2021): Argentina, Mexico recall ambassadors as Nicaragua broadens crackdown

Venezuela Regional and Local Elections: November 21, 2021

Venezuela has scheduled regional and local elections for November 21, 2021. In December 2020, Venezuela held legislative elections despite members of the opposition and international community calling for a delay in order to ensure credible, fair elections. Ultimately, most of the opposition boycotted; however, opposition parties appear willing to participate in the elections this year.

Jorge Fontevecchia, Buenos Aires Times (June 26, 2021): Juan Guaidó: ‘We’re not depending on the good faith of a dictatorship’

Valeria Vásquez, Foreign Brief (June 25, 2021): Venezuelan opposition committee to conclude US tour in Washington DC

Reuters (June 25, 2021): U.S., EU, Canada willing to review Venezuela sanctions based on negotiations

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. 

Julie Turkewitz, New York Times (June 25, 2021): Colombia’s President Is Shot at in Helicopter but Survives Attack

Christina Noriega, Al Jazeera (June 23, 2021): Protesters in Colombia turn to town hall meetings for solutions: Lack of progress at the national level has spurred Colombians to look to local officials to address their social concerns.

Richard McColl, Globe and Mail (June 21, 2021): Colombia struggles with multitude of issues as it heads for crucial vote

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

Simone Preissler Iglesias, Bloomberg (June 25, 2021): Lula Would Beat Bolsonaro in Brazil First-Round Vote, Poll Shows

Stuart Ramsay, Sky News (June 25, 2021): COVID-19: President Jair Bolsonaro in trouble as Brazil’s COVID crisis inquiry becomes box office viewing

Past Americas Elections

Aruba General Elections: June 25, 2021

Aruba, a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, is holding early general elections on June 25, 2021. Voters will elect all 21 members of the Estates, Aruba’s unicameral parliament. The elections were originally due in September, but will take place early because the government resigned. Aruba has full autonomy over internal affairs, while the Dutch government handles foreign and defense policy.

Wescott Yeaw, Foreign Brief (June 25, 2021): Aruba to commence snap parliamentary 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.

Castillo won the runoff by a margin of less than one percent. Fujimori is alleging fraud, but international observers largely dismissed that allegation. More

Reuters (June 26, 2021): Peruvians Take to Lima Streets Amid Fears Over Election Meddling 

Marco Aquino, Reuters (June 24, 2021): Peru political fog thickens as election count official quits

Gideon Long, Financial Times (June 24, 2021): Impoverished hometown is key to Pedro Castillo’s politics

Steven Levitsky and Alberto Vergara, New York Times (June 23, 2021): Trumpian Tactics Threaten to Undo Democracy in Peru

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

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

Jude Webber, Financial Times (June 26, 2021): Mexico City mayor: ‘There’s no need to change direction’: López Obrador protégée Claudia Sheinbaum resolute despite setbacks including election losses and metro collapse

AFP (June 24, 2021): Mexico president turns on middle class after election blow

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 21, 2021): Bolivian opposition leader fears arrest, blames ex-president Morales

Ecuador Presidential Runoff: April 11, 2021

Ecuador held a presidential runoff on April 11, 2021. Conservative Guillermo Lasso, who edged out indigenous activist Yaku Pérez for a spot in the runoff, surprised many by decisively defeating left-wing economist Andrés Arauz, a protege of former president Rafael Correa (himself barred from running after being convicted of corruption). More

Michael Cullen and Daniela Cuellar, JD Supra (June 24, 2021): Lassoing Ecuador Back In: A New Era for Ecuador

Belize Municipal Elections: March 3, 2021 and Parliamentary Elections: November 11, 2021

Belize held municipal elections on March 3. The center-left PUP was the biggest winner of yesterday’s municipal elections, following victory in last November’s parliamentary polls after three terms in opposition. Also, Sharon Palacio will be the first female mayor of the capital, Belmopan. More

CMC (June 25, 2021): Shyne Barrow, Former Bad Boy Rapper, Now Leader of Belize Opposition

Nitish Pahwa, Slate (June 24, 2021): One of Belize’s Most Powerful Politicians Is a Former Bad Boy Rapper

Regional Analysis

Paul J. Angelo and Will Freeman, Americas Quarterly (June 23, 2021): A Socially Conservative Left Is Gaining Traction in Latin America

Americas Elections Coming Up in 2021 and 2022

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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