Americas This Week: August 14, 2021

August 14, 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.

Calle Florida, a popular shopping street in Buenos Aires. Argentina’s November midterm elections will be a key test for the current left-wing populist government of Alberto Fernández and Cristina Fernández de Kirchner. Photo credit: Wikimedia/Gobierno de la Ciudad de Buenos Aires (CC BY 2.5 AR)

Upcoming Americas Elections

Canada Snap Parliamentary Elections: September 20, 2021

Canada will hold snap elections on September 20, 2021, two years early. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who currently heads a minority government, is hoping to win a majority for his Liberals. However, many Canadians do not want elections at this time, making the decision a major gamble.

Rob Gillies, AP (August 15, 2021): Trudeau triggers Canadian election, voting day Sept. 20

Reuters (August 12, 2021): Canada PM Trudeau is planning to call snap election for Sept. 20 — sources

Aaron Wherry, CBC News (August 11, 2021): Election soon, or election later? For Trudeau, it’s a gamble either way

Haiti Parliamentary and Presidential Elections: November 7, 2021 (additional delays possible)

Haiti plans to hold presidential and parliamentary elections this year in the midst of political and humanitarian crises. The 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).

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, but the interim government has said they will take place this year (although the date could be moved, especially in the wake of a deadly earthquake on August 14 that left over 1,000 people dead).

Jamie Ross, Daily Beast (August 16, 2021): Earthquake’s Havoc Could Delay Post-Assassination Election, Says Haiti Leader

Jason Marczak and Wazim Mowla, Atlantic Council (August 15, 2021): Haiti needs the world’s help. Now.

Reuters (August 11, 2021): Haiti elections to replace slain president postponed to Nov. 7 -media

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).

DW (August 14, 2021): Nicaragua: Prominent anti-Ortega newspaper raided by police

Tom Phillips, The Guardian (August 12, 2021): ‘We are in this nightmare’: Nicaragua continues its brazen crackdown – Ex-foreign minister among those arrested as Ortega detains political rivals as well as a columnist and ‘election geek’

AP (August 12, 2021): Newspaper goes online only as Nicaragua withholds newsprint

Alvaro Murillo, Reuters (August 10, 2021): Soaring number of Nicaraguans seek refuge in Costa Rica amid domestic crackdown

AP (August 9, 2021): EU says Ortega crushed prospect of fair Nicaraguan elections

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

Argentina is due to hold midterm legislative elections on November 14, along with a few sets of provincial elections on various dates. 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.

Patrick Gillespie and Ignacio Olivera Doll, Bloomberg (August 13, 2021): Argentina Tightens Capital Controls Ahead of Midterm Vote

Patrick Gillespie, Bloomberg (August 13, 2021): Argentine President Apologizes for Party Photo Amid Lockdown

Ignacio Portes, The Brazilian Report (August 9, 2021): Argentina’s midterm elections will be decisive for Fernández’s survival

Chile Presidential and Legislative Elections: November 21, 2021

Chile holds presidential and legislative elections in November, following presidential primaries on July 18 that produced surprise results ). 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. Moreover, the conservatives failed to secure even one-third of the Constitutional Assembly. 

The results of the July 18 presidential primaries indicate that voters seem to want a return to moderation. Center-right Sebastian Sichel prevailed over candidates who were both more established and more to the right. Similarly, on the left, communist Daniel Jadue, a darling of the international left-wing commentariat, lost to Gabriel Boric, a socialist former student leader. A number of other candidates could also enter the race, leaving the result far from clear.

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

Oliver Stuenkel, Americas Quarterly (August 10, 2021): Today’s Young Leftists Care More About Chile than Cuba

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.

Anthony Faiola and Ana Vanessa Herrero, Washington Post (August 13, 2021): Maduro and Venezuela’s opposition launch fresh talks. He seems to have the upper hand.

Fabiola Sanchez, AP (August 12, 2021): EXPLAINER: Low expectations for Venezuela-opposition talks

Maryhen Jiménez Morales, Americas Quarterly (August 11, 2021): Venezuela’s Negotiations Won’t Get Rid of Maduro. So What’s Next?

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

Reuters (August 14, 2021): Bolsonaro Attacks Brazil Judges, Warns of ‘Institutional Rupture’

Mauricio Savarese and Marcelo Silva de Sousa, AP (August 11, 2021): Brazil’s Bolsonaro loses his bid to reform voting system

Michael Pooler, Financial Times (August 10, 2021): Brazil military parade ahead of electoral vote an ‘attack on democracy’: Bolsonaro condemned for trying to intimidate politicians before unsuccessful attempt to introduce printed ballot receipts

Past Americas Elections

Ecuador Presidential Elections: February 7 and 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).

Currently, the capital, Quito, is experiencing political tensions surrounding the mayor, Jorge Yunda, a left-wing populist who faces charges for embezzlement. Yunda, elected in 2019 with only 21 percent support, was removed by the council in June but recently reinstated by a court. Both supporters and opponents of Yunda have been holding protests.  More

Marieta Campaña, Expreso Ecuador (August 13, 2021 – in Spanish): Court sets for September 29 the start of the trial for Jorge Yunda and others: Last year the Prosecutor’s Office began investigations for alleged embezzlement in the purchase of tests to detect COVID-19

Samantha Schmidt, Washington Post (August 10, 2021): As mayor of Ecuador’s capital faces possible removal, councilman throws a glass of water at him

El Universo Ecuador (August 10, 2021 – in Spanish): President Guillermo Lasso: The people do not deserve what is happening today in the Municipality of Quito

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

Inés San Martín, Crux (August 16, 2021): Why El Salvador’s lone cardinal is sounding the alarm against a ‘culture of confrontation’

Michael D McDonald and Sydney Maki, Bloomberg (August 11, 2021): El Salvador Bonds Extend Slump on Plans to Overhaul Constitution

Rhina Guidos, Catholic News Service (August 9, 2021): El Salvador’s cardinal says country living through ‘political earthquake’

Americas Elections Coming Up in 2021 and 2022

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

Paraguay Local Elections: October 10, 2021

Nicaragua Presidential and Legislative Elections: November 7, 2021

Haiti Presidential and Legislative Elections: November 7, 2021 (additional delays possible following assassination of president and catastrophic earthquake)

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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