Despite the recent resignation of Otto Pérez Molina, a deepening political crises, and calls for the postponement of general elections, Guatemalans are gearing up for election day on September 6 — so far are set to move forward as planned.
In addition to the presidential election, Guatemalans will also be voting for all 158 congress people and mayors in every city. Here, interestingly, the slate of candidates includes a number of people who come not from partisan political backgrounds but from Guatemala’s historic social movements and indigenous leadership structures.
The pool of candidates for president, though, has left voters feeling deflated, and analysts estimate that there will be high rates of absenteeism and “null” votes. (Null votes are used as a purely symbolic statement of dissent, given that a single vote can decide an election.)
Of the 14 parties that have launched presidential candidates, a handful have emerged as the most popular in polls:
Manuel Baldizón (president) and Edgar Barquín (vice president)
[Party: Renewed Democratic Liberty (LIDER)]
Baldizón is rumored to be engaged in illicit activity in Petén, though he is not under investigation. He has been an outspoken critic of the CICIG, which is currently investigating his vice-presidential candidate, Edgar Barquín, for criminal conspiracy, influence trafficking and money laundering.
Jimmy Morales (president) and Jafet Cabrera Franco (vice president)
[Party: National Convergence Front (FCN)]
Morales is a professional comedian with no experience in politics, yet his presidential campaign and has become very popular in polls. A candidate with the FCN party, he presents himself as a “new option,” but is funded in part by hard-liners in the Guatemalan military. Morales has also been linked to Byron Lima, a former military captain currently serving a sentence for the 1998 assassination of Bishop Juan Gerardi and who is now accused of criminal conspiracy and influence trafficking from within prison.
Sandra Torres (president) and Mario Leal (vice president)
[Party: National Union of Hope (UNE)]
Sandra Torres has been called the “least worst” by some. Of the center-left UNE party, she was first lady during President Colom’s administration, 2008-2012; she forged a divorce in order to run for president in 2011 but was barred. Her vice-presidential running mate is also under investigation for criminal activity.
Zury Rios (president) and Juan Luis Mirón (vice president)
[Party: Vision with Values (VIVA)]
Ríos is the daughter of military dictator Efraín Ríos Montt, accused of overseeing a campaign of genocide and war crimes in the early 1980s. As the family member of a participant in a military coup, her candidacy is technically illegal.
Roberto González (president) and Rodolfo Neutze Aguirre (vice president)
González is a former energy minister who is currently facing charges for alleged influence trafficking.