Americas This Week: September 18, 2021

September 18, 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.

Taino Beach in Freeport, Ba2hamas. The opposition won Bahamas’ snap election on September 16. Photo credit: Wikimedia/Pietro (CC BY-SA 3.0)

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 (September 18, 2021): EXPLAINER: What are the issues in Canada’s close election?

Paula Newton, CNN (September 17, 2021): Canada’s cliffhanger election is heating up. Some fear US-style political polarization will follow

Andy Blatchford, Politico (September 16, 2021): Top Trudeau rival O’Toole would push for Canada to join U.S., U.K. and Australia security alliance

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).

Elliott Abrams, National Review (September 19, 2021): Nicaragua’s Dangerous Family Dictatorship: Ortega is the new Somoza, and the next election will only extend his self-serving regime.

Sam Jones, The Guardian (September 18, 2021): ‘A feeling of deja vu’: author Sergio Ramírez on ex-comrade Ortega and Nicaraguan history repeating

MercoPress (September 16, 2021): Ortega leads Nicaragua towards authoritarianism, says Blinken

AFP (September 14, 2021): Top Nicaragua writer predicts Ortega govt will “fall”

Lisa Schlein, Voice of America (September 14, 2021): Pre-Election Crackdown on Civil and Political Rights in Nicaragua Worsens

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).

Camilo Montoya-Galvez, CBS News (September 18, 2021): U.S. increases deportations to Haiti amid spike in border arrivals

Reuters (September 16, 2021): Under scrutiny in murder inquiry, Haiti’s PM receives international backing

Sarah Marsh, Reuters (September 15, 2021): Haiti PM fires prosecutor seeking charges against him in president’s killing

Editorial Board, Washington Post (September 15, 2021): Opinion: Haiti’s prime minister is stonewalling and obstructing the investigation into the president’s 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.

The Economist (September 18, 2021): Argentine voters deal a blow to the ruling Peronist coalition: The primary elections are both a referendum on the government and an augury for elections in November

Ignacio Portes and Michael Stott, Financial Times (September 18, 2021): Argentina’s Cristina Fernández forces weakened president into reshuffle: Alberto Fernández sacrifices cabinet chief after heavy defeat in midterm primaries

Global Americans (September 17, 2021): Opposition surges in Argentine primary elections, in blow to Fernández

Mark P. Jones, Forbes (September 13, 2021): A Political Earthquake In Argentina’s Vaca Muerta

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

Holly K. Sonneland and Hope Wilkinson, AS/COA (September 16, 2021): Explainer: Who’s Who in Chile’s 2021 Presidential Race

Octavio García Soto interviewing Cristóbal Andrade, Jacobin (September 13, 2021): The Anti-Capitalist T. Rex Helping Write Chile’s New Constitution

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.

AFP (September 19, 2021): Venezuela’s Maduro sees legitimacy challenged in rare trip abroad

Reuters (September 17, 2021): Venezuela government accuses opposition of ‘sabotaging’ Mexico talks

Fabiola Zerpa, Bloomberg (September 15, 2021): U.S. to Consider Citgo Shares Sale Next Year in Blow to Guaido

Nick Schager, Daily Beast (September 13, 2021): Capturing Venezuela’s Descent Into Socialist Hell

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. The 2017 elections, which saw the controversial re-election of President Juan Orlando Hernández from the conservative National Party, were turbulent, with at least 30 people dying in protests over allegations of fraud. Hernández defeated Xiomara Castro, the wife of leftist former president Manuel Zelaya, who was ousted in 2009. Castro is running again this year, after winning the LIBRE party primary.

On the geopolitical front, Honduras is one of the few countries that maintains formal diplomatic relations Taiwan, but Beijing has been pressuring politicians to change that. LIBRE has said that it will switch its recognition to Beijing if it wins these elections.   More

Reuters (September 13, 2021): China taking advantage of Honduras vote, Taipei says

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

Jack Nicas, New York Times (September 15, 2021): Bolsonaro’s Ban on Removing Social Media Posts Is Overturned in Brazil

Michael Stott and Brian Harris, Financial Times (September 13, 2021): Brazil governor pitches third way between Bolsonaro and Lula in 2022 elections

Past Americas Elections

Bahamas Snap General Elections: September 16, 2021

Bahamas held 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.

In these elections, PLP ousted FNM.

Jim Wyss, Bloomberg (September 16, 2021): Bahamas Voters Oust Government After 16% Drop in Economic Output

Neil Hartnell, Reuters (September 16, 2021): Bahamas PM concedes defeat in polls overshadowed by COVID-19

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 have made 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

Andres Oppenheimer, Miami Herald (September 18, 2021): Mexico rolled out the red carpet for Cuba’s dictator, but is unlikely to lead a leftist bloc | Opinion

Reuters (September 17, 2021): Mexico softens tone on possible OAS shake-up plans

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

Marcos Alemán, AP (September 15, 2021): Thousands protest against Bukele government in El Salvador

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

Richard Lapper, Americas Quarterly (September 14, 2021): Bolivia Fails to Turn the Page

AFP (September 14, 2021): Six months after arrest, no trial date for Bolivian ex-president

Americas Elections Coming Up in 2021 and 2022

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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