Guatemalan Elections: Torres vs Giammattei heads to the runoff

On August 11, 2019, the voters of Guatemala will cast again  their votes to the second round of the 2019 presidential elections. The second round of elections, also called as runoff elections, are usually held when the leading candidate fails to generate at least 50% of the votes cast. Only the top two candidates will be eligible in the runoff elections who, in this year’s election, are former first lady Sandra Torres of the National Unity of Hope (Spanish: Unidad Nacional de la Esperanza, UNE), and Alejandro Guammattei of the “Let’s Go” Party (Spanish: Vamos Por Una Guatemala Diferente, VAMOS).

The first round of voting was held last June 16 with Torres garnering 25.73% of the votes cast while Giammattei got 13.89%. They competed with 17 other presidential candidates. The rest of the presidential candidates and the votes received is as follows:

Torres garnering the highest share of votes in the first round does not guarantee her winning the second round of voting.  According to the opinion polls, she has the highest rejection rate among voters starting from 40% in 8-11 February 2019 to 34.1% in the first week of June 2019. Guammattei, meanwhile, is among those with the lesser rejection rate ranging from 2.0% to 2.2% in the same period.

Among the baggages of Torres is her legal charges of criminal association and illicitly funding her 2015 presidential campaign. She is also silent in her stand against corruption which the voters have been looking forward to listen to.

Guammattei, who is now on his fifth presidential bid, stands to be the underdog in the runoff voting. His baggages include carrying out extrajudicial killings, the accusations of criminal associations, and his leaning towards autocracy and militarization. The latter could put a toll on him as he might not get the left of center votes. He, however, promises to combat corruption which he claims robs the population with proper education, health and welfare programs.

The August 11 runoff election still remains difficult to predict but could be affected by the recent immigration deal being proposed by the United States to the Guatemalan government, and the results of the investigations of the Tribunal Supremo Electoral (TSE) on the allegations of fraud during the first round of voting.

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