Americas This Week: August 21, 2021

August 21, 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.

The Bahamian parliament. Bahamas holds snap elections on September 16, eight months early. Photo credit: Wikimedia/Matt H. Wade (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Upcoming Americas Elections

Bahamas Snap General Elections: September 16, 2021

Bahamas will hold snap elections on September 16, eight months early. The Bahamas is a democracy and the two main parties, the governing center-right Free National Movement (FNM) and the center-left main opposition Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) have both done stints in power.

Kendy, Nation News Bahamas (August 19, 2021): Bahamas PM announces September 16 General Election date

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.

Robin V. Sears, Toronto Star (August 22, 2021): Afghanistan has been injected into another Canadian election — and will likely play a significant role in the outcome

Tyler Kustra, Washington Post (August 21, 2021): Canada’s prime minister called for early elections. Will this gamble pay off?

Holly Honderich, BBC (August 20, 2021): Canada election: How vaccine mandates became an issue

S. Ashleigh Weeden, The Conversation (August 19, 2021): Canadian election 2021: Why rural Canada must play a central role

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).

Jan-Albert Hootsen, America Magazine (August 19, 2021): Amid Ortega’s crackdown on opponents, is the Catholic Church in Nicaragua next?

Editorial Board, Washington Post (August 19, 2021): Opinion: In Nicaragua, night is falling for the free press

Al Jazeera (August 17, 2021): Nicaragua cancels permits for US, European NGOs: The move comes days after more Nicaraguan officials were sanctioned following arrests of opposition figures.

Christine Wade, Global Americas (August 17, 2021: The reasons behind Ortega and Murillo’s Nicaragua crackdown

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).

Jonathan M. Katz, Foreign Policy (August 18, 2021): Haiti’s Convenient Disaster: Last weekend’s earthquake was a catastrophe. But for the country’s political class, it came at exactly the right time

Henry (Chip) Carey, Washington Post (August 18, 2021): Haiti needs international help — even though past help has often made things worse

Michael Wilner, McClatchy (August 17, 2021): U.S. steps back from call for Haiti elections this year after quake, virus and assassination

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.

James Grainger, Buenos Aires Times (August 21, 2021): Argentina looks back for the future (again) as primaries near

Harrison Mantas, Poynter (August 17, 2021): Reverso builds a culture of accountability ahead of Argentina’s midterm elections

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

Matthew Malinowski, Bloomberg (August 21, 2021): Chile Senate Head Provoste Wins Center-Left Presidential Primary

Rio Times (August 20, 2021): Markets alert to political risk in the economies of Chile, Colombia, and Peru

Fitch Ratings (August 19, 2021): Politics Amplifies Fiscal Challenges in the Andean Region

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.

Elliott Abrams, The Hill (August 19, 2021): Biden might prefer you didn’t, but pay attention to the Venezuela negotiations

Honduras General Elections: November 28, 2021

Honduras holds presidential and legislative elections on November 28, 2021, following the March 14 primaries. These elections are taking place in the context of polarization and a crisis of legitimacy sparked in part by increasing authoritarianism. The 2017 elections were turbulent, with at least 30 people dying in protests over allegations of fraud, and many believe that there is potential for fraud in the upcoming elections. More

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

Andrew Rosati, Bloomberg (August 17, 2021): Bolsonaro’s Disapproval Reaches Record With Lula Gaining Ground

Reuters (August 17, 2021): Brazil govt weighs suing paper over article on election threats: defense minister

Past Americas Elections

Bolivia Local Elections: March 7 and April 11, 2021

Bolivia held regional and local 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 (August 21, 2021): Former Bolivian President Anez harmed herself while in jail – lawyer

DW (August 20, 2021): Bolivia charges ex-president Anez with ‘genocide’: Former interim leader Jeanine Anez faces charges of committing “genocide” against supporters of Evo Morales and staging a coup in Bolivia.

Reuters (August 18, 2021): Bolivia’s Morales says he would be exonerated if new probes on ‘massacres’ opened

Americas Elections Coming Up in 2021 and 2022

Bahamas Snap Parliamentary Elections: September 16, 2021

Canada Snap Parliamentary Elections: September 20, 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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