Americas This Week: July 17, 2021

July 17, 2021

A weekly review 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 during Chile’s 2013 primaries. Incidentally, the voter is Michelle Bachelet, who would go on to be elected president once again in that election (having previously served as president from 2006 to 2010. Chile held primaries on July 18 that returned surprise results both on the left and on the right. Photo credit: Wikimedia/Michelle Bachelet (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Upcoming Americas Elections

Saint Lucia Parliamentary Elections: July 26, 2021

Saint Lucia, Saint Lucia, a democracy with competitive elections and regular transfers of power, has scheduled general elections for July 26, after a slight delay due to COVID-19. The two main parties are the center-right United Workers Party, led by Prime Minister Allen Chastanet, and the main opposition social democratic Saint Lucia Labour Party. MoreJamaica Gleaner (July 18, 2021): CARICOM to send observer mission to St Lucia’s elections

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

Haiti’s political crisis went into overdrive on July 7 with the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse. Moïse had been governing by decree for over a year and stood accused by many of attempting to consolidate power through a controversial constitutional change (Moïse ultimately postponed the referendum.

Interim Prime Minister Claude Joseph says Haiti still plans to hold long-overdue legislative elections on September 26, 2021, along with a a presidential election. Allegations of fraud followed Haiti’s presidential 2015 election, sparking a political crisis that remains ongoing. Some have called for the upcoming elections to be delayed.

Amy Stillman, Bloomberg (July 17, 2021): Diplomats Urge New Leadership in Slight to Haiti’s Interim Chief

AP (July 17, 2021): Martine Moïse, Wife Of Slain President, Returns To Haiti

Catherine Porter, New York Times (July 16, 2021): In Slain Haitian Leader’s Hometown, Fear and a Vow: ‘We’ll Kill Them, Too’

AP (July 16, 2021): Official: Aristide to Return to Haiti ‘Fully Recovered’

Ben Fox and Danica Coto, AP (July 13, 2021): EXPLAINER: Who’s who in the probe of Haiti’s assassination

Michael Stott, Financial Times (July 12, 2021): Haiti police arrest émigré over presidential assassination

Juan Montes, Wall Street Journal (July 12, 2021): Two Haitian Adversaries Vying for Power Are Negotiating to Bring Stability, Elections

Roger Cohen, New York Times (July 11, 2021): Dueling Claims to Power. Broken Institutions. How Does Haiti Fix This?

Argentina Provincial Elections Midterm Legislative Elections: November 14, 2021 (postponed from October)

Argentina is due to hold midterm legislative elections this fall, along with a few sets of provincial elections. 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.

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. In the 2019 presidential election, Peronist Alberto Fernández defeated center-right incumbent Mauricio Macri (the first defeat for an Argentine incumbent president), running on a ticket with populist firebrand Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, who served as president from 2007 to 2015. Kirchner herself did not run for president because she was facing criminal charges related to misconduct during her time in office. Frente de Todos, the party formed by Kirchner and Fernández, currently holds a majority in the Senate and is the biggest party in the Chamber of Deputies, the lower house.

Jorge Fontevecchia, Buenos Aires Times (July 17, 2021): Domingo Cavallo: ‘It would be good for the country if the government had a bad election, come November’

Agustino Fontevecchia, Buenos Aires Times (July 17, 2021): Geopolitics and the ideological populism of Macri and Cristina

MercoPress (July 17, 2021): Charges filed against former Argentine President Macri for helping overthrow Evo in Bolivia

Lucía Wei He, Americas Quarterly (July 14, 2021): The Old-School Politician Doing New Things in Argentina

Andres Oppenheimer, Miami Times (July 14, 2021): Leaders of Mexico, Argentina are shameless hypocrites who back Cuba’s repressive regime

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).

James Jay Carafano, Heritage Foundation (July 16, 2021): Why Freedom Will Find a Way in Cuba

Carlos F. Chamorro, Confidencial (July 13, 2021): The Dictatorship’s Future in 2022: a Government with No Legitimacy

AP (July 13, 2021): US pulls visas of 100 Nicaraguan legislators, judges

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. 

In the July 18 primary elections, the conservatives chose Sebastian Sichel as their presidential candidate, anile

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

Valentina Fuentes and Matthew Malinowski, Bloomberg (July 18, 2021): Underdogs Score Surprise Wins in Chile Presidential Primary

Reuters (July 18, 2021): Two Political Upstarts Notch Upset Wins in Chile’s Presidential Primaries

Fabian Cambero and Aislinn Laing, Reuters (July 15, 2021): Chile police release constitutional delegates detained during protest

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.

Reuters (July 18, 2021): UK reaffirms backing for Guaido as Venezuela president ahead of $1 billion gold case

Buenos Aires Times/AFP (July 13, 2021): Venezuela’s Maduro says Mexico to host talks with opposition

Kaelan Deese, Washington Examiner (July 13, 2021): Venezuelan opposition leader Freddy Guevara arrested

AFP (July 12, 2021): EU mission meets with Venezuela defense minister, supreme court

Regina Garcia Cano and Jorge Rueda, AP (July 12, 2021): US eases crippling Venezuela sanction, allows propane deals

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. 

Marina E. Franco, Axios (July 17, 2021): Colombia’s bloody record for handling protests

Mark Leon Goldberg, UN DIspatch (July 12, 2021): Colombia is Rocked By The Biggest Protests In Recent Memory

Adriaan Alsema, Colombia Reports (July 12, 2021): Colombia insists anti-government protests are national security threat

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

Marina E. Franco, Axios (July 17, 2021): Facing impeachment, Brazil’s Bolsonaro is sowing distrust in upcoming elections

Tom Phillips, The Guardian (July 16, 2021): World can’t tolerate ‘premature death’ of Brazil’s democracy, says Bolsonaro rival: The centre-left politician Ciro Gomes tells the Guardian that Brazil is ‘living through the worst government in its history’

Bryan Harris, Financial Times (July 13, 2021): Brazil’s Bolsonaro takes aim at election in echo of Trump

Canada Parliamentary Elections: By October 16, 2023 (snap elections possible)

Canada is not due to hold federal elections until 2023, but snap elections could happen if the opposition manages to oust PM Justin Trudeau’s Liberal minority government in a vote of no confidence. Meanwhile, a number of provinces are holding elections this year.

Reuters (July 16, 2021): Foreign actors will seek to interfere in next Canada election – spy agency

Peter Zimonjic, CBC News (July 15, 2021): The federal election hasn’t started yet — but the parties are in full campaign mode

Uruguay Presidential and Legislative Elections: October 27, 2024

Uruguay holds general elections in 2024. The 2019 presidential election ended 15 years of leftist government by the center-left and social democratic Frente Amplio (Broad Front) coalition when center-right candidate Luis Lacalle Pou won (after he himself defeated a right-wing populist in his party’s primary). Corruption allegations and slow economic growth preceded the elections, leading to a vote for change.

Carina Novarese, Americas Quarterly (July 14, 2021): The Mayor Who Wants to Be Uruguay’s President

Past Americas Elections

Cuba Protests: July 2021

Cuba is run by a repressive communist regime. Although the country technically holds elections (the next parliamentary elections are due in 2023), they are neither free nor fair, and have been rigged to as to be unable to result in a change in government. However, in July 2021, Cubans began protesting in numbers not seen in over 30 years, calling for freedom.

James Jay Carafano, Heritage Foundation (July 16, 2021): Why Freedom Will Find a Way in Cuba

Anthony DePalma, Washington Post (July 13, 2021): Opinion: As in 1994, Cubans protest against a regime’s mortal threat

Frances Robles, New York Times (July 11, 2021): Cubans Denounce ‘Misery’ in Biggest Protests in Decades: The rallies, widely viewed as astonishing for a country that limits dissent, were set off by economic crises worsened by the pandemic.

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

Gabriela Camacho and Paolo Sosa-Villagarcia, Foreign Policy (July 16, 2021): Peru’s Democracy Is at a Breaking Point

Marco Aquino, Reuters (July 16, 2021): Peru’s Castillo strengthens ties with China, asks for faster vaccine supply

Simeon Tegel, Washington Post (July 15, 2021): Unproven fraud claims delay election result, challenge Peru’s fragile democracy

Buenos Aires Times (July 13, 2021):

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

Jason Lemon, Newsweek (July 17, 2021): Mexico Seeks to Renew Ties With North Korea, Also Backs Cuban Government: Foreign Minister

Americas Elections Coming Up in 2021 and 2022

Saint Lucia Parliamentary Elections: July 26, 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

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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