Americas This Week: October 9, 2021

October 9, 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.

Iguazu Falls, Paraguay. Photo credit: Wikimedia/Beatriz Posada Alonso (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Upcoming Americas Elections

Paraguay Municipal Elections: October 10, 2021

Paraguay holds local elections on October 10, 2021. On June 20, many of the political parties held primary elections. The federal government is led by President Mario Abdo Benítez from the conservative Colorado Party, which also won a majority in the lower house of the legislature in the 2018 elections (no party holds a majority in the Senate). Colorado has been in power most of the time since the 1950s.

Paraguay returned to democracy in 1989, following the collapse of the 35-year dictatorship of Alfredo Stroessner, but a number of issues remain. As a result, it is rated Partly Free by Freedom House.

DW (October 10, 2021 – in Spanish): Paraguay registers new attack one day before elections:: During the electoral campaign, at least 10 candidates in different parts of the country were victims of attacks.

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).

AP (October 7, 2021): Nicaraguan opposition says elections “void and illegitimate”

La Croix International (October 5, 2021): Nicaragua: Bishop calls for peace; president calls bishops “terrorists”

Graham Keeley, Voice of America (October 5, 2021): Nicaraguan Journalists Describe ‘Atmosphere of Fear’

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.

Stratfor (October 8, 2021): Argentina: Government to Increase Social Welfare Spending Through October

The Economist (October 7, 2021): Javier Milei, a libertarian, may be elected to Argentina’s congress: His rise in Buenos Aires hints at disaffection with Peronism

Buenos Aires Times (October 4, 2021): Argentina investors got election wish, then got hammered anyway: Argentina’s primary election went just the way investors wanted, but since then bonds have taken a nose dive.

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

MercoPress (October 6, 2021): Chilean opposition agree to seek Piñera’s impeachment in view of Pandora Papers

Bloomberg (October 6, 2021): Left-Wing Rage Threatens a Wall Street Haven in Latin America: A leftist leader rises in Chile. Will its vaunted economic miracle survive?

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.

Andres Oppenheimer, Miami Herald (October 6, 2021): EU decision to validate Venezuela’s fraudulent elections a slap in the face to democracy

Costa Rica Presidential and Legislative Elections: February 6, 2022

Costa Rica holds general elections on February 6, 2022. Rated Free by Freedom House, Costa Rica has been a stable democracy since 1949. Incumbent presidents are not allowed to run for a second consecutive term, so President Carlos Alvarado from the center-left Citizen Action (PAC) cannot run for another term. PAC has nominated former prime minister Welmer Ramos as its presidential candidate. In total, there will be 27 presidential candidates from various parties.

Rio Times (October 6, 2021): Costa Rica starts electoral process with 27 candidates for the presidency

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. 

Holly K. Sonneland and Hope Wilkinson, AS/COA (October 4, 2021): Explainer: Who’s Who in Colombia’s 2022 Presidential Race

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

Reuters (October 7, 2021): Brazil’s Lula, eyeing 2022 elections, visits trash recycling workers

Simone Preissler Iglesias and Daniel Carvalho, Bloomberg (October 6, 2021): A Powerful, Right-Wing Party Emerges in Brazil Without Bolsonaro

AP (October 2, 2021): Thousands in Brazil protest Bolsonaro, seek his impeachment

Haiti Parliamentary and Presidential Elections: Delayed

Haiti had planned to hold presidential and parliamentary elections this year in the midst of political and humanitarian crises, but the elections have now been delayed.

Haiti’s 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).

Zoe Strozewski, Newsweek (October 7, 2021): U.S. Pledges to Help End Political Discord in Haiti as Migration Continues

AFP (October 5, 2021): UN Security Council accepts Haiti election delay to 2022

UN News (October 4, 2021): Haiti facing stalled elections, kidnapping surge, rampant insecurity

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.

John Mohr, War on the Rocks (October 4, 2021): The Bahamas: A Close but Unfamiliar U.S. Partner

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

Connor Elliott, Foreign Brief (October 7, 2021): Bolivian Regional Governor to Testify in Ex-President’s Trial

AFP (October 5, 2021): Bolivia opposition call march to demand release of ex-president

Regional Analysis

Jan Martínez Ahrens, El País (October 3, 2021): Pandora Papers in Latin America: Three active heads of state and 11 former presidents operated in tax havens

Americas Elections Coming Up in 2021 and 2022

Paraguay Local Elections: October 10, 2021

Nicaragua Presidential and Legislative Elections: November 7, 2021

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 (delays possible)

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

Haiti Presidential and Legislative Elections: Delayed from November 7, 2021, no new date set

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