Americas This Week: May 14, 2022

May 14, 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.

Carriacou, Grenada. Grenada holds snap elections on June 23. Photo creditL Wikimedia/Atiemann (CC BY-SA 3.0)

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. Some have warned that Russia has been sowing disinformation in support of Petro’s candidacy, hoping that he would be hostile to the United States.

AFP (May 14, 2022): Colombia elections: the spectre of political assassination

AFP (May 12, 2022): Colombia’s Gulf Clan sows terror ahead of presidential vote

Joseph Bouchard, City Paper Bogota (May 12, 2022): Should Colombia join China’s Belt and Road Initiative?

Michael Stott, Financial Times (May 9, 2022): Election puts Colombia on cusp of change: Leftwing former guerrilla leads opinion polls in the presidential contest

Grenada General Elections: June 23, 2022

CMC (May 14, 2022): Prime Minister Mitchell announces June 23 election date for Grenada

Melissa Wong, Loop Caribbean News (May 13, 2022): Grenada: MP calls for peaceful election season as activities heat up

Saint Kitts and Nevis Snap Elections: By August 2022

Saint Kitts and Nevis will hold snap elections this year following the dissolution of parliament on May 11. The country is currently a member of the Commonwealth, with the British monarch serving as head of state, but this could change soon.

AP (May 11, 2022): St. Kitts dissolves Parliament, fires several top officials

Chile Constitutional Referendum: September 4, 2022

Chile will hold a constitutional referendum on September 4, 2022, following over a year of meetings of the Constitutional Convention, which was elected in May 2021. The constitutional process began in response to a series of violent protests and riots in 2019.

The referendum 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 former 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 won 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. The Constitutional Convention consists overwhelmingly of left-wing members and could potentially be out of step with the broader Chilean electorate. Because voting in the referendum is mandatory, the new constitution may not be approved.

Reuters (May 14, 2022): Chile’s constitutional assembly rejects plans to nationalise parts of mining sector: The proposal would have seen lithium and rare metal resources taken into state hands as part of the country’s wide-ranging political shakeup

Matthew Malinowski, Bloomberg (May 13, 2022): Chile Constitution Writers Enter Final Stretch for Draft Charter

Fitch Ratings (May 10, 2022): Chile Sets Out Deficit, Debt Paths; Social Spending Still Key

Eva Vegara and Daniel Politi, AP (May 9, 2022): Chile’s Boric attempts relaunch as honeymoon ends abruptly: Chile’s youngest president Gabriel Boric was celebrated when he won election last year

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

AP (May 14, 2022): Hired ‘hackers’ try, and fail, to invade Brazil vote system

Sam Jones and Tom Phillips, The Guardian (May 12, 2022): Author Mario Vargas Llosa backs Bolsonaro over Lula in Brazil election: Peruvian writer criticises incumbent’s ‘clowning around’ but says he is still preferable to former president

Simone Preissler Iglesias, Bloomberg (May 11, 2022): Bolsonaro Woos Rural Brazil With Land and Guns to Catch Lula

Reuters (May 10, 2022): Lula’s Lead Narrows in Brazil Election Race -MDA Poll

Bryan Harris and Carolina Ingizza, Financial Times (May 7, 2022): Lula targets centrist voters at launch of re-election campaign in Brazil

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.

Reuters (May 10, 2022): Argentina’s President Fernandez says he will seek reelection in 2023

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.

Monique Clesca, Americas Quarterly (May 12, 2022 – podcast): AQ Podcast: Haiti’s Political Crisis: An Overview and Ways Forward

Past Americas Elections

Costa Rica Presidential Runoff: April 3, 2022

Costa Rica held general elections on February 6, 2022, followed by a presidential runoff on April 3, 2022. Economist Rodrigo Chaves won, promising to “shake things up” in Central America’s most stable democracy.

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.

MercoPress (May 9, 2022): Rodrigo Chaves sworn in as President of Costa Rica

Javier Cordoba, AP (May 8, 2022): Costa Rica’s new leader takes over with a blast at the past: Rodrigo Chaves has begun a four-year term as Costa Rica’s new president, taking office with a lengthy list of reproaches for his predecessor and the country’s political class while promising great change

Venezuela Presidential Election: Due in 2024

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. Venezuela held regional and local elections on November 21, 2021. These followed the December 2020 legislative elections, which most of the opposition boycotted (opposition parties did participate in the 2021 local elections).

Venezuela’s politicalconstitutional, and humanitarian crises have been going on for years. The country became an authoritarian state under the now-deceased Hugo Chavez, who was elected in 1998 and completely transformed the country from a prosperous democracy to a leftist dictatorship. His successor, Nicolás Maduro, has continued on that path. Socialist economic policies have destroyed the economy. Although Venezuela is a major oil producer, 90 percent of Venezuelans cannot afford sufficient food and many have fled. Moreover, the capital, Caracas, has become one of the most violent cities in the world.

Nonetheless, Venezuela’s opposition is active and occasionally makes gains.

Authoritarian regimes such as Russia, China, and Iran back Maduro and most of the free world backs the opposition.

Tony Frangie Mawad, Politico (May 8, 2022): Nicolás Maduro Tries a New PR Campaign: Going Woke: Venezuela’s leader is courting a growing, more socialism-friendly generation in America by co-opting the language of the millennial left

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 (May 14, 2022): Nicaragua ends sentencing of opposition figures, negotiations next?

Summit of the Americas

Nahal Toosi, Politico (May 11, 2022): Biden’s Americas summit is drawing jeers and threats of boycott: Major Latin American leaders may skip next month’s Summit of the Americas amid criticism of who’s been left out and a seemingly thin agenda.

Rafael Bernal, The Hill (May 10, 2022): Mexican president to skip Summit of the Americas if Cuba, Nicaragua, Venezuela are excluded

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

Grenada General Elections: June 23, 2022

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

Saint Kitts and Nevis Snap Elections: By August 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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