Americas This Week: April 30, 2022

April 30, 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.

The Galéon Bucanero, a replica of a Spanish galleon, in Cartagena, Colombia. Photo credit: Wikimedia/Laslovarga (CC BY-SA 4.0)

Upcoming Americas Elections

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. For a while, he was seen as the favorite to win in May, but more recent polls show a statistical dead heat between Petro and conservative Federico Gutiérrez.

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.

Julia Zulver and Jennifer M. Piscopo, Washington Post (April 29, 2022): In Colombia, an activist, feminist lawyer is running for VP: Francia Márquez pledged to speak for marginalized and rural voters. That’s put her in danger.

John Otis, NPR (April 28, 2022): He’s running to be Colombia’s 1st left-wing president. Here’s what he plans to do

Tim Padgett, WLRN 91.3 FM (April 28, 2022): Will Colombia’s Petro build “reservoirs of credibility” — or pull the rug from his cause?

Shauna N. Gillooly, Washington Post (April 28, 2022): Colombia’s elections in May could determine the fate of the peace deal

Joseph Bouchard, City Paper Bogota (April 27, 2022): The geopolitics of Colombia’s historic 2022 election

Michael Stott and Gideon Long, Financial Times (April 26, 2022): Francia Márquez shakes up Colombian politics with bid for vice-presidency: Social activist gives powerful voice to country’s marginalised black community

Benjamin Russell, Americas Quarterly (April 25, 2022): The Evolution of Colombia’s Gustavo Petro: The former Bogotá mayor is making his third run at the presidency and is leading in polls. Has he changed, or has the country?

Frank Holmes, Forbes (April 25, 2022): A Socialist Takeover Of Colombia Would Devastate Its Economy

Mexico Presidential Recall Referendum: April 10, 2022, followed by State Elections in Some States: June 5, 2022

Six Mexican states hold gubernatorial elections on June 5: Aguascalientes, Durango (also holding local elections), Hidalgo, Oaxaca, Quintana Roo, and Tamaulipas.

These follow Mexico’s first-ever presidential recall election, which took place on April 10. Voters (very few of them – turnout was less than 18 percent) decided not 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 was organized by AMLO’s supporters, and many viewed it as a stunt.

Mexico’s high-stakes elections last June (midterm legislative elections, as well as gubernatorial elections in 15 of Mexico’s 31 states, and local elections) had more than 21,000 offices 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.

Maria Verza, AP (April 28, 2022): Mexico president proposes dramatic electoral reforms

Christine Murray, Financial Times (April 28, 2022): Mexico’s president seeks to tighten grip with electoral overhaul: López Obrador proposes plan to cut funds for political parties and loosen propaganda rules

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

Tom Phillips, The Guardian (April 30, 2022): Is Brazil ready for the next incarnation of President Lula? The 76-year-old former leader, jailed on corruption charges in 2018, is ready to run again and is ahead of incumbent Jair Bolsonaro in the polls

Reuters (April 30, 2022): Any Bolsonaro attempt to undermine Brazil election should be met with sanctions, ex U.S. diplomat says

Reuters (April 23, 2022): Brazil opposition party files complaint against Bolsonaro’s pardon for ally

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

Reuters (April 28, 2022): Peru’s Ruling Party Turns on Castillo; Calls for President to Step Down in 2023

MercoPress (April 23, 2022): Castillo to seek referendum regarding Constitutional reform in Peru

Paraguay Presidential and Legislative Elections: April 2023 (due)

Paraguay held 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. These elections took place in the context of political violence and attacks on candidates. As a result, it is rated Partly Free by Freedom House.

MercoPress (April 28, 2022): Paraguayan left picks presidential candidate

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

Argentina is due to hold presidential and legislative elections in October or November 2023.

Argentina held midterm legislative elections in November 2021, along with a few sets of provincial elections on various dates. The ruling Peronists took a major hit, losing control of the legislature for the first time in decades.

Argentina’s 2021 elections – both provincial and legislative – happened 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.

Nathaniel Janowitz, Vice (April 28, 2022): The Boss of Argentina’s Notorious ‘Monkeys’ Gang Just Got Busted

Buenos Aires Times (April 25, 2022): María Eugenia Vidal: ‘I would like to be Argentina’s president’: National lawmaker reignites speculation over opposition’s 2023 candidate by admitting that she would like to be Argentina’s president.

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.

Argus Media (April 27, 2022): Venezuela opposition rejects talks on US sanctions

Patricia Laya and Nicolle Yapur, Bloomberg (April 26, 2022): Exiled Venezuelan Leader Pushes for Primaries to Confront Maduro

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).

Maria Puerta Riera, Australian Institute of International Affairs (April 28, 2022): Ortega’s Grip on Power and the Demise of Democracy in Nicaragua

Al Jazeera (April 25, 2022): Nicaragua withdraws from regional bloc OAS after election row: The regional bloc was among several international organisations that slammed the 2021 re-election of President Daniel Ortega.


Scott B. MacDonald (April 29, 2022): Russia’s Struggle for Hearts and Minds in the Western Hemisphere

Americas Elections Coming Up in 2022 and 2023

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: September 4, 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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