Political situation in Guatemala and elections

Friday, September 4, 2015 - 08:25

What happens after the resignation of the President?

With the resignation of Otto Perez Molina as President of Guatemala, the Congress shall give possession to the current Vice President Alejandro Maldonado Aguirre, who replaced Roxanna Baldetti last May 14th, accused of links with corruption. Maldonado Aguirre is a right-wing politician, founder of the National Liberation Movement (MLN), calling itself the "party of organized violence" which overthrew President Arbenz helped by the US. In the past he had senior positions in military governments.

Unfavorable context for elections

Next Sunday September 6th will see the first round of the presidential election and, if necessary, a second round will be held on October 25th.  In the middle of a corrupt and discredited electoral process, it is estimated that 75% of campaign financing comes from illicit money (50% from corruption and  25% from drug trafficking). Political parties with a presence in the Congress –with a few exceptions- refused to approve the amendments to the Electoral Law and Political Parties presented by the TSE and the Platform for the Reform of State -made up by academics, universities, social sectors, human rights defenders and churches of different denomination, which could be the basis for advancing the renewal of the political class that citizens demand.

The candidates

Despite the lack of debate on government plans, of the 17 parties who are in the competition, according to recent polls, only three candidates are likely to win.

Firstly, Jimmy Morales with 25% of the vote, little known until a few months ago. Morales is a comedian with no political experience, supported by the military and business sector. Sectors of the population see him as an option against the rejection of the second candidate, Manuel Baldizón, Party Leader, with 22.3% of preferences thanks to a multimillion-dollar campaign allegedly financed by drug trafficking. Third, Sandra Torres, UNE Party, stands with 18.4%, pointed to commit fraud law to stand as a candidate in the last election and have diverted funds from several ministries to build her social base party.

What Civil Society proposes?

Conservatives who have joined the fight against corruption, now insist on the need to maintain the institutional side, develop elections next Sunday and regain stability as soon as possible. On the other hand, the Popular Social Assembly composed by 72 civil society organizations and other citizen movements, raises the necessity of forming a Transitional Government that promotes the legal reforms needed to hold elections later on other grounds and promote the integration of a Constituent Assembly to urgently promote a deep reform. Broad sectors of the population state that the current model of political organization has come to an end and the country needs a fundamental change and renewal of the political class.

There is consensus in Guatemalan society that the next president will assume the presidency in a very fragile condition and his government might be short. If events do not take another turn, on January 14th 2016, the new president will takes position in these conditions and the political crisis will last.

 

In this context we must remain vigilant. We must continue to fight for a renewal of the political class and the profound reform sought by the Guatemalan people.