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A Second Round Elections in Guatemala will take place on October 25th

Thursday, September 17, 2015 - 09:58

After four historical months where citizenship and social movements forced the President and Vice President to resign and face justice, the elections of new authorities continue to give surprises and uncertainties about which will be the future for Guatemalans.

Past elections on September 6th had the biggest percentage of citizen participation (70%) compared with latest elections in the last 25 years (40%-50%). People came to the voting centers early in the morning and continue all day long, trying to define and overcome a crisis that, nevertheless, will continue after the new authorities take over, since political reforms demanded were not approved by the Congress.

Violent incidents were registered in some municipalities and secondary cities, where some local authorities achieved reelection after 17 and 18 years in power and being denounced of corruption.  Only ten days after the elections occurred the supreme electoral court –TSE— achieved completing the results information, since in some places ballot boxes were destroyed. Elections for local authorities must be repeated in eleven municipalities.

Yet, results will not change: Guatemalans will have a Second Round of elections on October 25th.  First Round of elections for President and Vice President were a big surprise since the anti political comedian Jimmy Morales from the FCN (National Convergence Front) won the first place with 23.85%, leaving the second place to Sandra Torres from UNE (Union of National Hope), with a 19.75%.  The third force (Lider), which all surveys gave before as the winner, is now out of the competition.

Jimmy Morales, a comedian with no political experience, is highlighted as representing the interests of the military old guard who are still backed up by Pérez Molina, the Foundation against Terrorism, and the Military Veterans Association of Guatemala (AVEMILGUA). The electorate that voted him does not know its brand new party and consider him an anti-vote, someone far away of the corrupted political class.  According to some analysts and human rights defenders, Morales could represent a step back to military control and support for the military and politicians now being judged for genocide ones and corruption others.

Sandra Torres, defined as social democrat, is also accused of corruption and political use of public budget during the government of her ex-husband Alvaro Colom, as well as highlighted for her authoritarian manners. However, people do remember her to be the first to set up Social Programs of conditioned money and goods transfers for the poorest social layers.

The Congress, on the other side, was only partly renewed; still 70 deputies out of 158 were reelected. Conservative parties will continue to be the biggest political parties represented (Lider 44, UNE 33, Todos 18, PP, 17, FCN 12); while social democrats and left wing political parties, who are now representing the platforms that gathered the social demands during the anti-corruption demonstrations, are poor represented (Encounter for Guatemala EG 7, Convergence 3, URNG-Winaq 2). 

One point is clear: elections occurred within the same rules in a depleted political system. The crisis has not been resolved nor passed. But, all analysts also coincide that Guatemalan citizenship has awakened and that new authorities will be forced to do things in a different way.  New battles to change the political system and to avoid new events of corruption that take away rights and basic services to the population are very near. Social pressure over the political class will continue to be the key factor.