Americas This Week: March 26, 2022

March 26, 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.

Palm trees in Valle de Corcora in Salento, Colombia. Colombia could get its first leftist president in May. Photo credit: Wikimedia/Danielcgold (CC BY-SA 4.0)

Upcoming Americas Elections

Uruguay Referendum: March 27, 2022

On March 27, Uruguay is holding a referendum on a wide-ranging piece of legislation called the Law of Urgent Consideration (LUC), a signature initiative of President Luis Lacalle Pou.

Lacalle Pou won the 2019 presidential election, ending 15 years of leftist government by the center-left and social democratic Frente Amplio (Broad Front) coalition. Prior to the general election, the center-right Lacalle Pou 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.

The referendum is a key test for Lacalle Pou’s program.

General elections are next due in 2024.

Catherine Osborn, Foreign Policy (March 25, 2022): Uruguay’s Low-Key Drama: Latin America’s most stable democracy holds a high-stakes policy referendum.

Chase Harrison, AS/COA (March 24, 2022): Uruguay to Vote in Wide-Ranging Referendum

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

The French Collectivities of St. Martin and St. Barts hold territorial council elections on March 20 and 27, 2022. St. Martin shares an island with the Dutch territory of Sint Marteen.

The Daily Herald St. Maarten (March 21, 2022): RSM party wins first round of Territorial Council election

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.

AFP (March 24, 2022): Costa Rica Presidential Candidates Attack each other in First Debate

Mexico Presidential Recall Referendum: April 10, 2022

Mexico will hold a referendum on April 10 in which voters will decide whether to recall President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (frequently called AMLO). AMLO, a leftist firebrand, was elected in 2018. Mexican presidents serve a single, non-renewable six-year term. However, AMLO promised voters that he would give them a chance to recall him halfway through his term. Therefore, ironically, the recall referendum is being organized by AMLO’s supporters.

After that, in June 2022, six states hold gubernatorial elections: Aguascalientes, Durango (also holding local elections), Hidalgo, Oaxaca, Quintana Roo, and Tamaulipas.

Mexico’s last elections were 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 were at stake – the biggest elections in Mexico’s history. AMLO’s 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.

Meanwhile, political violence is on the rise, with at least 88 politicians killed and hundreds of candidates targeted during the 2021 elections. More

Carin Zissis, AS/COA (March 23, 2022): LatAm in Focus: Why Is Mexico Holding a Presidential Recall Vote?

Jan-Albert Hootsen, Just Security (March 23, 2022): López Obrador’s Last Chance to Protect Mexico’s Press

Colombia Presidential Election: May 29, 2022

Colombia holds a presidential election on May 29, following legislative elections and presidential primaries on March 13. Leftist former guerrilla Gustavo Petro won his primary in a landslide and is seen as the favorite to win in May. No party won a majority in the legislative elections and centrists did not perform well, exacerbating the country’s polarization.

If Petro wins in May, he will be Colombia’s first leftist president. This election follows recent leftist victories in Honduras, Chile, Peru, and Bolivia and comes ahead of Brazil’s highly polarized election, which leftist former president Lula da Silva is the favorite to win.

Diana Durán and Samantha Schmidt, Washington Post (March 24, 2022): Former guerrilla member running for president of Colombia envisions new Latin American left

Caros Cruz Mosquera, Jacobin (March 23, 2022): The Left Is Finally Rising in Colombia

Richard Emblin, City Paper Bogota (March 22, 2022): Colombia’s election integrity scrutinized over fraud charges

Fitch Ratings (March 15, 2022): Fragmented Congress Will Constrain Colombia’s Next President

Catalina Oquendo, El País (March 14, 2022): Francia Márquez, the Colombian electoral phenomenon: The environmental leader won more votes than the center candidate Sergio Fajardo without having held public office and with a campaign that began only three months ago

Gideon Long, Financial Times (March 14, 2022): Gustavo Petro sweeps Colombia election primaries: Ex-Marxist guerrilla campaigning to halt oil exploration wins leftwing primary

AP (March 14, 2022): Colombians vote for a new congress and presidential candidates

AP (March 13, 2022): Biden announces major non-NATO ally status for Colombia

Canada, Ontario Provincial Elections: June 2, 2022, followed by other provincial and local elections this year

Canada holds several sets of provincial and local elections this year. Next up: Ontario, Canada’s most populous province, holds provincial elections on June 2, 2022. Ontario last held provincial elections on June 17, 2018, and will hold the next elections on or before June 22, 2022. The Progressive Conservatives, under populist leader Doug Ford, won in a landslide, ending 15 years of Liberal rule. In addition, Ontario’s local elections are due by October 2022.

These follow last September’s snap federal elections, which took place 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. However, Trudeau subsequently reached a confidence-and-supply deal with the leftist New Democratic Party (NDP), which could bring stability until 2025, when the next elections are due.


Mike Crawley, CBC News (March 23, 2022): Why an Ontario Liberal-NDP deal is bound to happen if June’s election delivers a minority


Al Jazeera (March 22, 2022): Canada’s Justin Trudeau reaches deal to stay in power until 2025: Left-leaning NDP agrees to prop up prime minister’s Liberal minority government in exchange for advancing key policies

Paul Vieira, Wall Street Journal (March 22, 2022): Canada’s Trudeau Strikes Deal With Rival to Prop Up Minority Government

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 (March 24, 2022): Bolsonaro reduces Lula’s advantage for Brazil election -Datafolha

Michael Pooler, Financial Times (March 22, 2022): Petrobras becomes a political football in upcoming Brazilian elections

Oliver Stuenkel, Foreign Policy (March 15, 2022): Bolsonaro Is Learning All the Wrong Lessons From Jan. 6

Simone Preissler Iglesias, Bloomberg (March 23, 2022): Lula’s Old Foe Is a Step Closer to Becoming His Running Mate

Anthony Boadle, Reuters (March 23, 2022): Former Sao Paulo governor Alckmin joins leftist party to be Lula’s running mate

Oliver Stuenkel, Americas Quarterly (March 22, 2022): Lula’s “Team of Rivals” Strategy Could Reduce Polarization

Peru Local and Regional Elections: October 2, 2022

Peru holds local and regional elections on October 2, 2022. These follow last year’s presidential election and are happening in the context of political turmoil.

These 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

Gideon Long, Financial Times (March 27, 2022): Is Peru becoming an ungovernable country?

DW (March 17, 2022): Top Peru court approves release of ex-President Alberto Fujimori

Al Jazeera (March 14, 2022): Peru Congress votes to debate President Castillo’s impeachment :Members of Peru’s opposition parties accuse left-wing President Pedro Castillo is morally unfit to govern.

Chile Constitutional Referendum: Third Quarter 2022

Chile holds a referendum on a new constitution in 2022. This follows last year’s presidential and legislative elections. Far-left socialist former student leader Gabriel Boric defeated Jose Antonio Kast, a far-right legislator, in the runoff. Although results of the July 18 presidential primaries seemed to indicate that voters seem to want a return to moderation, the center-right candidate from incumbent president Sebastián Pińera’s coalition did not even make the runoff. However, the legislative elections were a bit more complicated. Piñera’s Chile Podemos Más coalition will have the most seats in the Senate, and the Chamber of Deputies is split nearly evenly between right and left-leaning members. These results will potentially constrain Boric’s ability to pursue a far-left agenda. All newly-elected officials took office in March 2022.

The 2021 elections took 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.

Alexander Villegas, Reuters (March 22, 2022): Chile extends new constitution deadline to July

Americas Quarterly (March 17, 2022): AQ Podcast: Gabriel Boric Gets to Work in Chile

Alexander Villegas, Reuters (March 16, 2022): Chile abortion debate gets key place in Constitution redraft

Matthew Malinowski, Bloomberg (March 15, 2022): Chile’s Interior Minister Greeted by Gunfire in Test for New President

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.

Brian Ellsworth, Reuters (March 17, 2022): Seven U.S. members of Congress call on Biden to withdraw support for Haiti’s Henry

Past Americas Elections

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. Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and subsequent sanctions, U.S. officials have begun to court the Venezuelan regime.

Marianna Parraga and Matt Spetalnick, Reuters (March 22, 2022): Venezuela’s opposition presses U.S. to hold off its consideration of oil imports

Geoff Ramsey and David Smilde, El País (March 19, 2022): Biden’s Venezuela policy shift creates an opportunity—take advantage of it: The fundamental objective should to break the stalemate, to create dynamic opportunities that have a better chance of restoring democracy

Forantonia Singer, El País (March 16, 2022): Between Russia and the US: How Venezuela is playing both sides in the Ukraine conflict

Phil Gunson, International Crisis Group (March 16, 2022): A Twist in Caracas: Is a Venezuela-U.S. Reboot on the Cards?

Marianna Parraga and Matt Spetalnick, Reuters (March 14, 2022): Exclusive: Chevron set to trade Venezuelan oil if U.S. relaxes sanctions, sources say

Jalen Small, Newsweek (March 12, 2022): Once A Pariah, Venezuela’s Maduro Now Courted by the U.S. for Oil

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).

AFP (March 26, 2022): High profile defection highlights cracks in Nicaragua government, say analysts

AP (March 23, 2022): Nicaragua’s OAS ambassador says own government dictatorship

Hannah Brockhaus, Catholic News Agency (March 14, 2022): Nicaragua Government Expels Vatican Diplomat: The expulsion of the nuncio marks a further deterioration of the diplomatic relations between the Holy See and Ortega’s government.

Philip Pullella, Reuters (March 12, 2022): Vatican protests over expulsion of its ambassador to Nicaragua

Ismael López Ocampo and Mary Beth Sheridan, Washington Post (March 12, 2022): Top Nicaraguan presidential candidate Cristiana Chamorro convicted in crackdown on opposition

Jamaica General Elections: September 3, 2020

Jamaica held general elections on September 3, 2020. The center-right Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) won a second term in a landslide, making additional gains over the main opposition People’s National Party (PNP). The next elections are due in 2025. Jamaica is a democracy rated “Free” by Freedom House. JLP and PNP have rotated terms in power.

Jamaica became independent from the United Kingdom in 1962, but the UK monarch remains the head of state. However, this could change, following a similar change in Barbados in 2021.

Katie Chappell and Brian Ellsworth, Reuters (March 24, 2022): Jamaica PM tells British royals island nation wants to be independent

AP (March 23, 2022): As British royals visit Jamaica, protesters demand slavery reparations

Omid Scobie, Harper’s Bazaar (March 22, 2022): Jamaica to Begin Process of Removing Queen as Head of State After William and Kate’s Tour

Americas Elections Coming Up in 2022 and 2023

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

Uruguay Referendum: March 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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