Americas This Week: September 25, 2021

September 25, 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.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will remain in power following the September 20 snap elections, but he once again failed to win a majority. Photo credit: Flickr/Alex Guibord (CC BY-ND 2.0)

Upcoming Americas Elections

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).

AFP (September 25, 2021): Nicaragua’s presidential campaign kicks off, with no rivals

Savannah Jacobson, Columbia Journalism Review (September 20, 2021): Press freedom, protest, and the Nicaragua election

Human Rights Watch (September 20, 2021): Nicaragua: Trumped-Up Charges Against Critics

Elliott Abrams, National Review (September 19, 2021): Nicaragua’s Dangerous Family Dictatorship

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).

Jennifer Peltz, AP (September 25, 2021): Haiti’s leader: Migration won’t end unless inequality does

AP (September 24, 2021): US special envoy to Haiti resigns over migrant expulsions

Laura Gottesdiener, Reuters (September 21, 2021): How a drug-trafficking mayor in Honduras fueled the U.S. migration crisis

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.

Frida Ghitis, World Politics Review (September 23, 2021): In Argentina, Fernandez vs. Fernandez Is Bad News for Everyone

Daniel Politi and Ernesto Londoño, New York Times (September 22, 2021): In Argentina, a Political Alliance of Convenience Comes Undone: Argentina’s vice president, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, masterminded the plan to elect President Alberto Fernández. Now they’re openly sparring.

Stratfor (September 20, 2021): Argentina’s Political Crisis Will Give Populism a Boost

AFP (September 18, 2021): Argentina’s president reshuffles cabinet after political crisis: official

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

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.

María Isabel Puerta Riera, Global Americans (September 24, 2021): America is Back? The reframing of democracy promotion in Latin America

Alex Vasquez and Ezra Fieser, Bloomberg (September 24, 2021): Why Venezuela’s ‘Two Presidents’ Are Ready to Talk

Vivian Sequera and Brian Ellsworth, Reuters (September 23, 2021): Venezuela spoiler candidates pose threat to opposition in regional vote

Eddy Acevedo, National Review (September 22, 2021): Capitulation Will Only Embolden the Maduro Regime

Andres Oppenheimer, Miami Herald (September 22, 2021): Biden’s U.N. speech was a good one, but he should have come down harder on Cuba, Venezuela

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

AP (September 22, 2021): Honduras’ President at U.N. Denies Ties to Drug Trafficking

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 recently. The proximate cause was a tax bill, but the protests have grown – and grown violent – and dozens have died. 

Jan Martínez Ahrens and Inés Santaeulalia, El País (September 22, 2021): Gustavo Petro: ‘Colombia doesn’t need socialism, it needs democracy and peace’: The frontrunner in the polls for the 2022 presidential elections talks to EL PAÍS about how he plans to help the Colombian people, and why he will leave politics if he loses the vote

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

Brian Winter, Americas Quarterly (September 20, 2021): Have Brazilians Given Up on Bolsonaro?

Past Americas Elections

Canada Snap Parliamentary Elections: September 20, 2021

Canada held snap elections on September 20, 2021, two years early. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau hoped to win a majority for his Liberals. He ended up remaining in power, but once again helming a minority government. His gamble did not pay off.

Amanda Coletta, Washington Post (September 25, 2021): China’s ‘hostage diplomacy’ standoff with Canada is over. But how much damage was done?

Affan Chowdhry and Paula Newton, CNN (September 21, 2021): Justin Trudeau’s early election gamble backfires in Canada but he clings onto power

Conrad Black, The Spectator (September 21, 2021): Another stupid, redundant, dismal Canadian election

Andy Blatchford, Politico (September 21, 2021): What Trudeau’s win means for Canada-U.S. relations

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 19, 2021): Bahamas’ Opposition Party Wins 32 out of 39 Parliamentary Seats

CARICOM (September 17, 2021): Bahamas Elections reflect will of the people: Preliminary Statement, CARICOM Election Observation Mission

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

AP (September 21, 2021): El Salvador president says he’s world’s ‘coolest dictator’

Reuters (September 20, 2021): U.S. adds top Guatemalan, Salvadoran officials to corruption list

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.

Eric Farnsworth and Carlos Mazal, AS/COA (September 23, 2021): The U.S. Should Cozy Up to Uruguay. Here’s Why.

Americas Elections Coming Up in 2021 and 2022

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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