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Guatemala prepares for general elections on June 25

BY Nehomar Hernández*

Guatemala is getting ready for elections in which a new president of the Republic, mayors in 340 municipalities, and 160 deputies to the National Congress will be elected.

This week the Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE) has given the green light to the beginning of the campaign for the general elections, which will be held on June 25.

The incumbent president, Alejandro Giammattei, with almost four years of administration behind him, has recently said that next year he will hand over his mandate with a “clear conscience” after having “fulfilled his duty” and “laid the foundations” to turn Guatemala into a country with potential for foreign investment and development.

Guatemala, Guatemala prepares for general elections on June 25
The Guatemalan Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE) (Photo internet reproduction)

“The next president will have his or her mandate and will be free to do what he or she wants for four years (…), so if you help me, I am sure that whoever wins the elections will have everything to succeed and if a president and a government succeed, the country succeeds and Guatemala today is succeeding”, said the head of state.

At the closing of the nominations, the TSE counted the registration of about thirty parties and 23 presidential candidates, among which stand out the conservative Zury Ríos, the centrist Edmond Mulet, and the former first lady Sandra Torres, of left tendency.

At the start, polls tend to show Ríos as the clear favorite.

In an early March poll, TResearch stated that the candidate had 26% support against 20% for Torres and 19% for Mulet.

Another poll, conducted in February by Massive Caller, registered 21.9% support for Ríos, with Mulet following closely behind with 20.4%.

Zury Ríos is the daughter of the late military dictator Efraín Ríos Montt, who ruled the Central American country during the brief but violent interruption from 1982 to 1983.

Her central proposal revolves around a policy of tightening citizen security, implementing a sort of “mano dura” (iron fist) in the style of Nayib Bukele in El Salvador.

Information published by the media Infobae indicates that even the advisors of the current Salvadoran president may be playing a role in the campaign of Ríos, with whom they have been close in recent months.

In other matters, an eventual presidency of this candidate is seen as a line of continuity with the policies that Giammattei has sustained, being that she is inclined to the defense of the traditional family, the fight against abortion, and the vindication of national sovereignty.

However, the process of registration of candidacies has not been free of controversy.

In recent weeks, the TSE itself disqualified the registration of the candidacy of Thelma Cabrera, an indigenous leftist leader who had already been a presidential standard bearer in 2019, coming in fourth place.

Similarly, the eventual candidacy of Roberto Arzú, a businessman who claims to be a conservative and is the son of former president Álvaro Arzú Irigoyen, was also blocked.

This situation, specifically regarding the case of Cabrera – who was granted some degree of sympathy in the polls -has caused multiple criticisms regarding the Guatemalan electoral system, which is accused of imposing unequal criteria on the aspirants at the time of requesting requirements to register their candidacies.

In any case, at the beginning of the campaign, the TSE has asked for a process “free of violence, plural and with democratic values”, where “(…) the political organizations and the candidates officially registered for these elections, as well as allies, sympathizers and other persons can develop actions destined to spread programmatic offers, promote candidacies and request the vote.”

All this in elections in which close to 9.3 million people registered in the electoral roll are called to vote, adding some 100,000 Guatemalans to the United States.

*Venezuelan journalist (Universidad Central de Venezuela) and Master in Political Science (Universidad Simón Bolívar). He is working on his doctoral thesis in Political Science and hosts the “Y Así Nos Va” radio program on Radio Caracas Radio.

With information from LGI

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