Americas This Week: February 12, 2022

February 12, 2022

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.

Ruins of the Iglesia de Ujarras, one of the oldest churches in Costa Rica, built in the 1560s. Costa Rica will hold a presidential runoff election on April 3. Photo credit: Wikimedia/Edwin Dalorzo (public domain)

Upcoming Americas Elections

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 current frontrunners to replace him is former left-wing guerilla Gustavo Petro, who placed second in 2018. Ingrid Betancourt, a former FARC hostage who was kidnapped while running for president in 2002, is also running, on a platform of national reconciliation. She had originally planned to run in the center coalition’s primary, but since withdrew from the coalition and announced that she would be an independent candidate.

The country has been rocked by protests beginning in April 2021. The proximate cause was a tax bill, but the protests grew violent, leading to dozens of deaths.

Richard Emblin, City Paper Bogota (February 11, 2022): US warns of “risks by external actors” ahead of Colombia elections

Julia Symmes Cobb and Luis Jaime Acosta, Reuters (February 11, 2022): Colombia presidential candidate says talks with ELN rebels possible but not in Cuba

Andrea Jaramillo and Lucia Kassai, Bloomberg (February 10, 2022): Colombian Driller Sees Petro’s Anti-Oil Plans Ending Up in Court

AFP (February 9, 2022): Colombia’s presidential favorite apologizes for drunken speech

Stefano Pozzebon, CNN (February 6, 2022): Colombia struck a peace deal with guerrilla groups years ago. So why is violence surging?

Costa Rica Presidential Runoff: April 3, 2022

Costa Rica held general elections on February 6, 2022 and will hold a presidential runoff on April 3, 2022.

In total, there were 25 presidential candidates from various parties, and turnout was a historic low. Incumbent presidents are not allowed to run for a second consecutive term, so President Carlos Alvarado from the center-left Citizen Action (PAC) did not run for another term. PAC nominated former prime minister Welmer Ramos as its presidential candidate. However, PAC won less than 1 percent of the vote and no seats in the legislature, and Ramos will not advance to the runoff. Instead, center-right economist Rodrigo Chaves, who won the first round, will face off against center-left former president José María Figueres.

Rated Free by Freedom House, Costa Rica has been a stable democracy since 1949.

Ilka Treminio, London School of Economics (February 10, 2022): A new and decisive campaign begins in Costa Rica as it heads to a runoff election

Paul J. Angelo and Andres Villar, Council on Foreign Relations (February 10, 2022): Costa Rica’s Presidential Election: What to Know

Javier Cordóba, AP (February 8, 2022): Costa Rica’s governing party nearly ‘erased’ by election

Patricio Navia and Lucas Perelló, Americas Quarterly (February 7, 2022): Costa Rica’s Election: A Bad Day for Incumbents, but Some Hope Ahead

Holly K. Sonneland, AS/COA (February 7, 2022): Costa Rica’s Election Moves On to Runoff amid Low Turnout

Brazil General Elections (Presidential, Legislative, State, and Local): 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. 

As Latin America’s biggest economy, Brazil’s politics have an impact on the entire region and – increasingly – on the world stage. More

Reuters (February 11, 2022): Bolsonaro allies allegedly pushing fake news effort, Brazil police document says

Juan Arias, El País (February 10, 2022): Bolsonaro is making Brazil kneel before Putin

Terrence McCoy, Washington Post (February 6, 2022): Floundering in the polls, Brazil’s Bolsonaro woos a surprising new demographic: The poor

Peru Local and Regional Elections: October 2, 2022

Peru holds local elections on October 2, 2022, following general elections that took place in spring 2021. The general 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

DW (February 9, 2022): Peru: President Castillo swears in 4th Cabinet in 6 months

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). Prime Minister Ariel Henry is now leading the country, and has said he will hold elections, but has not specified a date.

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).

Gessika Thomas and Brian Ellsworth, Reuter (February 7, 2022): Haiti’s Henry urges elections amid calls for transition government

Maria Abi-Habib and Natalie Kitroeff, New York Times (February 6, 2022): Haiti Opposition Group Calls on U.S. to End Support for Current Government

Past Americas Elections

Barbados Snap Parliamentary Elections: January 19, 2022

Barbados held snap parliamentary elections on January 19, a year early, following a decision made in September 2021 to remove the British monarch as head of state and become a republic. The incumbent center-left Barbados Labor Party (BLP, nicknamed the “Bees”) won in a landslide (after winning all 30 seats in the last elections). Prime Minister Mia Mottley will remain in office.

Previously, the Democratic Labour Party (DLP, “Dems”) held power for 10 years. The DLP is seen as being to the left of the BLP, having been founded by a group that broke away in 1955 (the BLP was founded in 1938). However, politics in Barbados tends to be driven by personalities.

Kristina Hinds, World Politics Review (February 8, 2022): Mottley’s Barbados Election Gamble Paid Off Royally

Honduras General Elections: November 28, 2021

Honduras held presidential and legislative elections on November 28, 2021, following the March 14 primaries. Leftist opposition candidate Xiomara Castro won the presidential race.

These elections took 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. Some feared post-election turmoil this year, but Nasry Asfura, the National Party’s candidate, conceded.

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 had said that it would switch its recognition to Beijing, but has not done so yet and could potentially change its mind. More

Michael K. Lavers, Los Angeles Blade (February 10, 2022): First openly gay Honduras congressman reflects on election

Marlon González, AP (February 7, 2022): Dissident steps aside, resolving Honduras congress dispute

Venezuela Regional and Local Elections: November 21, 2021

Venezuela held regional and local elections on 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 participated in the November 21 elections.

The next presidential election is due in 2024, but some opposition figures hope it will happen early.

Regina Garcia Cano, AP (February 11, 2022): Venezuela’s Guaidó, opposition seek to unite under big tent

Nicaragua General Elections: November 7, 2021

Nicaragua held general elections on November 7, 2021. President Daniel Ortega, who has been in power for 20 years, sought and won another term after jailing his strongest opponents. Under Ortega’s rule, Nicaragua has become increasingly authoritarian, with rule of law and fundamental freedoms under assault.

Several opposition candidates were arrested before the election, including Cristiana Chamorro, who was 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).

DW (February 13, 2022): Nicaragua: Ex-rebel leader dies after being jailed by Ortega

AP (February 12, 2022): Hugo Torres, Nicaragua ex-rebel leader Daniel Ortega jailed, dies at 73

AP (February 10, 2022): Nicaragua sentences student leader, ex-Sandinista commander

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

AFP (February 10, 2022): ‘Coup d’etat’ trial of Bolivia ex-president to begin

Americas Elections Coming Up in 2022 and 2023

Colombia Legislative Elections: March 13, 2022

St. Martin and St. Barts Territorial Elections: March 20 and 27, 2022

Costa Rica Presidential Runoff: April 3, 2022

Colombia Presidential Election: May 29, 2022

Canada, Ontario Provincial Elections: June 2, 2022

Mexico State and Local Elections in Some States: June 5, 2022

Canada, Resort Village Elections in Manitoba: July 22, 2022

Chile Constitutional Referendum: Third Quarter 2022

Brazil General Elections (Presidential, Legislative, State, and Local): October 2, 2022

Peru Local and Regional Elections: October 2, 2022

Canada: Local Elections in Ontario: October 24, 2022

Canada: Local Elections in Manitoba: October 26, 2022

Canada: Local Elections in Prince Edward Island: November 7, 2022

Canada: Local Elections in Saskatchewan: November 9, 2022 (Rural Municipalities – even number divisions)

Canada: Local Elections in Northwest Territories: December 12, 2022

Guyana Local Elections: Overdue (date not set yet – preparations being made)

Ecuador Regional Elections: February 5, 2023

Jamaica Local Elections: By February 2023

Grenada General Elections: By March 2023 (due)

Paraguay Presidential and Legislative Elections: April 2023

Guatemala General Elections: June 2023 (expected)

Guatemala General Election Runoffs: August 2023 (expected)

Argentina Presidential and Legislative Elections: October or November 2023 (due)

Antigua and Barbuda General Elections: By 2023

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

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