Americas This Week: June 11, 2022

June 11, 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.

Street art in Bogotá, Colombia. Photo credit: Wikimedia/Pedro Szekely (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Upcoming Americas Elections

Colombia Presidential Runoff: June 19, 2022

Colombia held the first round of its presidential election on May 29. Leftist former guerrilla Gustavo Petro took first place and will face populist real estate mogul Rodolfo Hernández in the runoff, who took second place in an upset as conservative Federico Gutiérrez was widely expected to advance. For a while, Petro was seen as the favorite, but more recent polls show the result is far from preordained.

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.

Tracy Wilkinson, Los Angeles Times (June 11, 2022): Significant shift expected in relations between U.S., longtime Latin American ally Colombia

Andrea Jaramillo and Oscar Medina, Bloomberg (June 10, 2022): Colombia’s Election Is Too Close to Call Nine Days Ahead of Vote

Americas Quarterly (June 9, 2022 – podcast): AQ Podcast: Luis Alberto Moreno on Colombia’s Elections and Latin America’s Upside

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.

Missy Ryan, Washington Post (June 9, 2022): U.S. missing opportunities with Latin America, Chile’s leader says

Reuters (June 9, 2022): In Chile, indecision rules while voters are divided on new constitution -poll

Dr Rainer Zitelmann, Foundation for Economic Education (June 8, 2022): Will Capitalist Chile Go the Same Way as Venezuela?

Jon Lee Anderson, The New Yorker (June 6, 2022): Can Chile’s young president reimagine the Latin American left?

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

Steven Grattan, Reuters (June 8, 2022): Poll shows Brazil’s Lula maintains strong lead in presidential race

Cristiane Lucchesi, Felipe Marques, and Rachel Gamarski, Bloomberg (June 8, 2022): Brazil Bankers Cringe at Both Choices in October Election

AP (June 7, 2022): Biden will meet with Brazil’s president Bolsonaro amid friction, election worries: Analysts and opposition lawmakers in Brazil worry Bolsonaro is laying the groundwork to reject election results should he fail to secure a second presidential term

Bryan Harris, Financial Times (June 7, 2022): Social media platforms crack down on fake news ahead of Brazil election

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.

Stratfor (June 9, 2022): Argentina: IMF Completes First Review of Debt Deal at Staff Level

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.

Nora Gámez Torres, Miami Herald (June 10, 2022): U.S. official explains why Juan Guaidó didn’t get an invite to the Summit of the Americas

Patsy Widakuswara, Voice of America (June 8, 2022): Biden Extends Support, Not Summit Invitation, to Venezuela’s Guaido

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.

Keith Mines, Peter Hakim, Georges Fauriol, and Enrique Ter Horst, U.S. Institute of Peace (June 9, 2022): How to Break the Stalemate in Haiti: The country needs a national dialogue to address a trio of deteriorating political, economic and security crises

Past Americas Elections

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

Six Mexican states held gubernatorial elections on June 5: Aguascalientes, Durango (also holding local elections), Hidalgo, Oaxaca, Quintana Roo, and Tamaulipas. The party of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) won four out of six of them. AMLO, a left-wing populist, was first elected in 2018 in a vote that upended Mexico’s historically-dominant party system. Since taking office, he has sought to consolidate power and taken actions that have raised concerns about his commitment to democracy.

Meanwhile, political violence is on the rise, with at least 88 politicians killed and hundreds of candidates targeted during the 2021 midterm elections (which were the biggest elections in Mexico’s history, with over 21,000 offices at stake).

Michael Stott and Christine Murray, Financial Times (June 12, 2022): Mexico elections chief sounds alarm over López Obrador’s ‘reform’ plan: President wants to overhaul independent election body ahead of contests in 2024

AP (June 6, 2022): Mexico president’s party wins 4 of 6 governorships on ballot

Elliot Spagat, Joshua Goodman, and Chris Megerian, AP (June 6, 2022): In blow to Biden, Mexican president to skip Americas Summit

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.

Most recently: Ontario, Canada’s most populous province, held provincial elections on June 2, 2022. The Progressive Conservatives, under populist leader Doug Ford, won a second term in a landslide. Ford made an appeal to union workers and other blue-collar voters and managed to flip seats previously held by the leftist New Democratic Party (NDP).

These follow the September 2021 snap federal elections, which took place two years early. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau hoped to win a majority for his Liberals. His gamble did not pay off. He ended up remaining in power, but once again helming a minority government, this time with a confidence-and-supply deal with the NDP. The arrangement could bring stability until 2025, when the next elections are due.

Maura Forrest, Politico (June 10, 2022): What Doug Ford’s blue-collar victory means for Canada’s progressives

Andy Blatchford, Politico (June 8, 2022): O’Toole blames China for Conservative election results: “We lost eight or nine seats to foreign interference,” former leader says during leadership postmortem

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).

McGill International Review (June 10, 2022): The Everlasting Fight for Democracy in Nicaragua

Bolivia General Election Re-Run: October 18, 2020

Bolivian politics are turbulent, polarized, and chaotic. In the October 2019 elections, left-wing populist President Evo Morales ran for a controversial fourth term and declared himself the winner, after defying a referendum on presidential term limits. Officials annulled the results in the face of credible evidence of vote-rigging. The election was re-run in October 2020, but during the interim, conservative opposition leader and then-Senate vice president Jeanine Áñez declared herself interim president.

Subsequently, socialist Luis Arce won the October 2020 re-run. Evo Morales has returned to the country to lead his party, although apparently not every member of his party loves him. Opposition candidates won the mayoral elections in 8 out of 10 of Bolivia’s biggest cities during the 2021 local elections.

These elections happened amid political tension over the arrest of former interim president Jeanine Anez, who was recently sentenced to prison in a move the opposition slammed as politically motivated. More

AP (June 11, 2022): Bolivia’s Jeanine Anez, who took power after chaotic election, sentenced to 10 years in prison

Americas Elections Coming Up in 2022 and 2023

Colombia Presidential Runoff: June 19, 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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