Americas This Week: August 28, 2021

August 28, 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.

Traditional dancers in Honduras, where the campaign for the November 28 presidential and legislative elections has begun. Photo credit: Flickr/Joel Kramer (CC BY 2.0)

Upcoming Americas Elections

Argentina, Corrientes Provincial Elections: August 29, 2021, followed by 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.

Legislative Midterms

Ignacio Portes, Financial Times (August 28, 2021): Argentina’s president tries to contain fallout from lockdown party photos: Leaked pictures of first lady’s birthday party have led to impeachment calls against Fernández ahead of midterm vote

Reuters (August 28, 2021): Argentina’s president charged with allegedly breaking quarantine

Corrientes Provincial Elections

Daniel Rice, Foreign Brief (August 29, 2021): Corrientes gubernatorial and state elections to begin

Buenos Aires Times (August 27, 2021): Provincial lawmaker in Corrientes Province shot during election rally

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.

Paul Vieira, Wall Street Journal (August 29, 2021): Soaring Canada Real Estate Prices Draw Campaign Pledges to Build Homes

BBC (August 28, 2021): Canada election: Justin Trudeau rally cancelled after angry protests

David Moscrop, Washington Post (August 25, 2021): Opinion: Canada’s election is heating up — and here come the slogans

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).

Committee to Protect Journalists (August 27, 2021): Nicaraguan authorities charge journalist Carlos Fernando Chamorro with financial crimes

DW (August 25, 2021): Nicaragua charges journalist with money laundering

Kai M. Thaler and Ryan C. Berg, Los Angeles Times (August 24, 2021): Op-Ed: To replace autocrats of Nicaragua, think beyond this fall’s election

Mario Medrano and Sharif Paget, CNN (August 24, 2021): Nicaragua detains another opposition leader in pre-election 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 Alpeyrie, Daily Beast (August 30, 2021): His Name Is Barbecue—and He’s Ready to Plunge Haiti Into War

World Politics Review (August 27, 2021): ‘We Have the Moral High Ground’: A Civil Society-Led Vision for Haiti’s Future

John Bacon, USA Today (August 25, 2021): 11 days after massive earthquake, miracles in the rubble as determined Haitians struggle to dig out

Lister Lim, Al Jazeera (August 25, 2021): Earthquake aid flowing after Haiti gang truce opens up highway

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 24, 2021): Chile’s Presidential Field Swells to Nine at Sign-Up Deadline

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 now say they will participate in the elections this year, while also calling for an early presidential election.

AFP (August 27, 2021): Guaido focused on advancing date for Venezuela elections

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. 

President Juan Orlando Hernández Alvarado from the conservative National Party, who first took office in 2013, is not eligible to run for another term. Four candidates are vying to succeed him: Nasry Asfura from the National Party, Xiomara Castro – wife of deposed former president Manuel Zelaya and a member of the leftist Libre party, businessman Yani Rosenthal from the Liberal Party, and Salvador Nasralla, who is running on an anti-corruption platform. More

Acadia Brooks, Foreign Brief (August 30, 2021): Honduran General Election Campaigns to Begin

Michael K. Lavers, Los Angeles Blade (August 25, 2021): Honduran government’s institutions ‘are murdering us’: Lack of opportunities, violence prompt LGBTQ people to migrate

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 third-way candidates plan to challenge both Bolsonaro and Lula. More

Duarte Mendonca, CNN (August 29, 2021): Bolsonaro says he will either be arrested, killed or win Brazil’s next election

Bryan Harris and Carolina Pulice, Financial Times (August 25, 2021): Brazil’s ‘third way’ candidates gear up to challenge Bolsonaro: Choice beyond hard right’s radicalism and left’s corruption scandals in next year’s polls

Lisandra Paraguassu, Reuters (August 24, 2021): Brazil governors concerned over Bolsonaro support among military police

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.

Marcell Felipe, Miami Herald (August 24, 2021): Biden administration doesn’t seem to have a plan to secure a free Cuba. But we do | Opinion

Past Americas Elections

Peru Presidential Elections: April 11, 2021 and June 6, 2021

Peru held general elections this year. These elections came 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 alleged fraud, but international observers largely dismissed that allegation. More

MercoPress (August 28, 2021): Peru’s cabinet survives Parliamentarian vote of confidence

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

Catherine Osborn, Foreign Policy (August 27, 2021): A Savvy Start for Ecuador’s New President: Reconciliation and vaccination have earned Guillermo Lasso a 73 percent approval rating. Can it last?

Bolivia General Election Re-Run: October 18, 2020

Bolivia held 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.

Subsequently, Bolivia held local and regional elections in March and April, 2021. 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

Rio Times (August 30, 2021): Opposition in Bolivia says that court system is “political weapon” of persecution

Samantha Schmidt, Washington Post (August 23, 2021): Genocide prosecution of former president tests Bolivia’s justice system

Regional Analysis

The Economist (August 25, 2021): Democracy is quickly eroding in Central America

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

Brazil Presidential and Legislative Elections: October 2, 2022

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