Americas This Week: October 30, 2021

October 30, 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.

A street in the city of Talagante, Chile. Chile holds key elections this month. Photo credit: Wikimedia/Penarc (CC BY-SA 3.0)

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).

Frida Ghitis, World Politics Review (October 28, 2021): Ortega Is Leaving Nothing to Chance in Nicaragua’s Election Farce

Dánae Vílchez, Committee for the Protection of Journalists (October 27, 2021): Eight press freedom threats to watch ahead of Nicaragua’s presidential elections

Nahal Toosi, Politico (October 26, 2021): Tiny Nicaragua is becoming a big problem for Joe Biden: The ruling family — colorful, corrupt and ruthless — has embraced the Kremlin and crushed what remains of the country’s democratic opposition.

Reuters (October 22, 2021): Blinken accuses Nicaragua’s Ortega of preparing ‘sham election’

Tom Phillips, The Guardian (October 22, 2021): Nicaraguan business leaders arrested in Ortega’s pre-election crackdown: Ortega has detained 39 opponents ahead of November election

Buenos Aires Times (October 21, 2021): Argentina abstains from OAS vote criticising Nicaraguan government: Alberto Fernández administration refuses to back Organisation of American States resolution calling for the release of political prisoners in Nicaragua.

Bradley A. Freden, U.S. Mission to the OAS (October 20, 2021): OAS Adopts Resolution Condemning Repression in Nicaragua

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.

Al Jazeera (October 28, 2021): Argentina’s Macri testifies in court on espionage charges

Patrick Gillespie, Bloomberg (October 19, 2021): Argentina Freezes Prices on Over 1,400 Goods Ahead of Vote

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

Robert L. Funk, Americas Quarterly (October 26, 2021): The Rise of José Antonio Kast in Chile: The ultra-conservative figure has surged as an option for voters alienated by the left.

Matthew Malinowski, Bloomberg (October 25, 2021): Chile’s Presidential Polls Show Increasingly Polarized Race

AFP (October 22, 2021): Chile violence a boost to far-right ahead of elections, say experts

Fabian Cambero, Reuters (October 18, 2021): Polarized Chile marks anniversary of 2019 protests as election nears

Maya Averbuch and Eduardo Thomson, Bloomberg (October 18, 2021): Chile’s Conservative Presidential Candidate Rises in Polls

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 29, 2021): We know how Venezuela’s elections will end. Will foreign observers endorse the farce?

Vivian Sequera, Reuters (October 28, 2021): EU election observers begin work ahead of Venezuela regional, local vote

Global Americans (October 22, 2021): Venezuela negotiations fall apart as elections draw closer

Steven Grattan, Financial Times (October 17, 2021): Venezuela halts talks with opposition after key Maduro ally extradited

Julie Turkewitz, New York Times (October 16, 2021): U.S. Extradites Key Financial Ally of Venezuela’s President, Inciting Retaliation

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 (October 27, 2021): Honduran leftist holds big lead ahead of vote, poised to make history

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. 

Jorge del Castillo and Michael Cullen, JD Supra (October 25, 2021): The Petro Dilemma: Implications of Colombia’s 2022 Elections for Business

City Paper Bogota (October 19, 2021): Ex-Venezuela spy chief claims Petro recipient of Maduro money

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

AP (October 20, 2021): Brazil Senate report urges charging Bolsonaro with crimes over the pandemic

Mariana Palau, Americas Quarterly (October 19, 2021): Inside Brazil’s Dangerous Battle Over Fake News

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).

Al Jazeera (October 26, 2021): Haiti gang leader demands PM resign amid harsh fuel shortages: Jimmy ‘Barbecue’ Cherizier said he would allow the safe passage of fuel trucks if Prime Minister Ariel Henry resigns.

Mary Harris, Slate (October 25, 2021): “These Gangs Are Better Armed Than the Police”: How kidnapping became normal in Haiti

Paul Angelo, New York Times (October 25, 2021): There Is a New Kidnapping Capital of the World. Here’s What We Need to Do About It.

Reuters (October 22, 2021): Colombian wanted in Haiti assassination to be extradited from Jamaica -Colombia police

Maria Abi-Habib and Constant Méheut, New York Times (October 22, 2021): ‘Morally, They Are Lost’: Gangs in Haiti, Breaking a Taboo, Target the Church

Georges Fauriol, Global Americans (October 22, 2021): Adrift: US-Haiti policy

CNN (October 21, 2021): Gang leader threatens to kill captive missionaries in Haiti if he doesn’t get what he wants

Past Americas Elections

Barbados Indirect Presidential Election: October 20, 2021

Barbados’s parliament elected former governor general Sandra Mason president on October 20, following a decision made in September to remove Queen Elizabeth II as head of state and begin the process of becoming a republic.

Christine Hauser, New York Times (October 22, 2021): Barbados Elects Its First Head of State, Replacing Queen Elizabeth: The country’s Parliament chose Sandra Mason, the governor general, to assume the symbolic title, a decisive move to distance itself from Barbados’s colonial past.

Sharon Pruitt-Young, NPR (October 22, 2021): Barbados elects a woman as its first president as it moves toward becoming a republic

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.

Ian Austen, New York Times (October 26, 2021): Narrowly Returned to Power, Trudeau Promises an Activist Government: The Canadian prime minister failed to gain a majority in Parliament last month but acted otherwise when unveiling his new cabinet.

J.J. McCullough, Washington Post (October 25, 2021): Opinion: Alberta has revived the fight for an elected Senate in Canada

Nia Williams, Reuters (October 18, 2021): Alberta referendum puts embattled premier in spotlight

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 (October 28, 2021): Bolivia Prosecutor’s Office indicts former military officers for participating in Áñez’s investiture

MercoPress (October 18, 2021): Bolivia’s Constitutional Court rules Áñez presidency was illegal

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

BNAmericas (October 19, 2021): Why Lasso may dissolve Ecuador’s congress and trigger new elections

AFP (October 19, 2021): Blinken Praises Ecuador Democracy as Leader Declares State of Emergency

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

DW (October 18, 2021): El Salvador: Thousands march against President Nayib Bukele

Regional Analysis

Chase Harrison , Holly K. Sonneland , Hope Wilkinson and Carin Zissis, AS/COA (October 27, 2021): One Month, Four Very Different Elections in Latin America

Americas Elections Coming Up in 2021 and 2022

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

21votes does not necessarily agree with all of the opinions expressed in the linked articles; rather, our goal is to curate a wide range of voices. Furthermore, none of the individuals or organizations referenced have reviewed 21votes’ content. That is to say, their inclusion should not be taken to imply that they endorse us in any way. More on our approach here.

Share This