According to preliminary counts, Sandra Torres and Bernardo Arevalo will play the second round on August 20.
The progressive deputy Bernardo Arevalo became the big surprise of the Guatemalan presidential elections, unexpectedly advancing to a second round in which he will face former first lady Sandra Torres.
With 97% of the tally sheets, the candidate prevailed with 15.7% of the votes, followed by the 12% reached by Arevalowho thus detached himself from the twenty applicants who participated in elections that were marked by the fragmentation of stamps.
Until Sunday, the polls anticipated Torres as favorites; the ultra-conservative ex-deputy Zury Rios, daughter of the late dictator Efrain Rios Montt; and the journalist Edmond Mulet. In fact, Arevalo was not even mentioned, since his name evaporated among the rest of the candidacies.
But, against all odds, on Sunday night the first counts confirmed that part of the citizenry had opted for the candidate for the Seed Movement, a party offering to fight Guatemala’s endemic corruptionamong other proposals.
At first, the doubt centered on the possibility that it was Mulet who would go to the second round but, as the hours passed, the difference against Arevalo widened.
In fact, already with a meager 7.8% of votes secured, Mulet even canceled the press conference he had announced. Rios, for his part, barely obtained 6.6% of the ballots.
The Supreme Electoral Tribunal reported this Monday at a press conference that the trends were final, although the results will only be made official on Tuesday, forcing a second round to be held. The run-off will take place on August 20 in a climate of uncertainty, since for now a clear favorite cannot be seen.
who wins the second round will receive on January 14 the presidential sash from the hands of Alejandro Giammatteia president who registers low popularity levels of around 20% and who has been mired in multiple scandals during his administration.
Another fact to highlight from the day was the high level of abstention, since invalid votes totaled 17.4%which exceeded the volume obtained by any candidate.
In this way, Guatemalans were fed up with a political system that has failed to improve the living conditions of the population, which continues to have high levels of poverty and has generated authoritarian leaderships marked by corruption.
For this reason, thousands of citizens decided to cross their ballots with the words “null”, “thieves”, “corrupt” and other insults, as a way of showing your distrust.
Who are they?
Sandra Torres He came into this election on the background of scandalous previous presidential campaigns.
In 2011, in order to run for the first time, she divorced her husband, then-President Alvaro Colom, since Guatemalan law prohibits the candidacy of relatives of the current president. The maneuver was so evident that its registration was canceled.
Four years later, the former first lady did manage to compete and came in second, which allowed her to advance to a runoff in which she was defeated by Jimmy Morales.
In the last two elections, people have voted poorly and have ended up favoring presidents who have failed. The time has come to give myself the opportunity, I am a woman with capacity, experience and political will. This June 25 vote UNE #sandrapresidenta 👍🏻💚 pic.twitter.com/1jJpJWoCx2
— Sandra Torres (@SandraTorresGUA) June 22, 2023
In 2019, in her third attempt, she won the first round, but in the second she ended up defeated by Giammattei. In September of that year, barely a month after the elections, she was arrested and accused of illicit electoral financing and illicit association.
At the end of 2020, the process was closed by a judge who considered that there were not enough elements to prosecute Torres. The ruling allowed him to run again this year and win the first round, partly thanks to his proposals to emulate the “strong hand” of the president of El Salvador, Nayib Bukele, against crime.
Bernardo ArevaloFor his part, he is a 64-year-old sociologist trying to continue the legacy of his father, Juan Jose Arevalo, who was the first president elected by popular vote in 1944, after the October Revolution that overthrew General Juan Federico Ponce. .
Like his father, he has also had a long career as a diplomat, having, among other positions, He was Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs, advisor to the United Nations and Ambassador of Guatemala in Spain.
In 2017, he founded the Movimiento Semilla with other personalities, which, two years later, unsuccessfully tried to nominate former prosecutor Thelma Aldana as its first candidate for the presidency.
What the new party did achieve was that Arevalo won a seat in Congress, from where he jumped to this year’s presidential candidacy that finished positioning him as one of the most important political figures in Guatemala.