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Guatemalan presidential election heads to run-off

InternationalGuatemalan presidential election heads to run-off

The ex-first lady and the son of a former president will face off in a run-off election for Guatemala’s presidency set for August 20.

by Marco Lopez

BELIZE CITY, Wed. June 28, 2023

Neither Sandra Torres nor Bernardo Arevalo secured the 50% of votes needed to win the Guatemalan presidential elections outright on Sunday. The two will face off in a run-off election scheduled for August 20 in hopes of leading the Central American country as president for the next term. 

On Monday morning, Guatemala’s electoral commission said the results were practically definitive. The former First Lady, Sandra Torres, who is the ex-wife of Alvaro Colom of the National Unity of Hope Party (UNE), is also running under UNE’s banner. She secured just 15.7% of votes on Sunday.

Bernardo Arevalo is the son of Juan Jose Arevalo – the first democratically elected president in Guatemala. Polls leading to Sunday’s election did not suggest that he would make it to the runoff. He is the presidential candidate of the Seed Movement and received 11.8% of the votes when counting was completed on Sunday.

“We’re going to win, against whoever it may be,” Sandra Torres said. Torres is the sister of Narda Garcia, CEO of Prime Minister Hon. John Briceño’s Ministry of Finance. In a comment aired on 7News, Garcia said, “I wish my sister well in the August run-off. I am proud of her for her determination and persistence in fighting for her ideals. Her family in Guatemala and Belize and elsewhere are proud of her and supportive of her struggle for the presidency of Guatemala. And no, whatever happens, I am not moving to Guatemala. I am Belizean and my struggles are here.”

Arevalo has made tackling corruption a key priority of his bid; at the voting center on Sunday he said the results of this election show “the exhaustion of the people with the traditional political class.” He vowed to “pull the country out of the swamp” if elected.

Some believe the votes for the Seed Movement are an outright rejection of the traditional parties. Not only did Arevalo advance to the run-off, but the party also picked up 24 seats in Congress.

Torres, who remains unpopular in the capital, Guatemala City, will struggle to win the run-off, polls suggest, since that area is home to a high percentage of the electorate. In the last two presidential elections, she has finished as runner-up.

Torres and Arevalo both received more votes than Edmond Mulet and Zury Rios. Since January, the Guatemala Supreme Electoral Council also blocked three presidential candidates from participating.

Approximately 9.2 million Guatemalans are eligible to vote to select the 160 members of Congress, 340 mayors, and 20 delegates to the Parliament of that country. Polls so far point to a fragmented Guatemalan Congress, which could present difficulties for the next president.

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