Guatemala lives, this Sunday (25), its general elections, which include the vote to choose the regional authorities, the members of the country’s unicameral Parliament and a presidential dispute in which the polls indicate three candidates with chances of advancing to a probable second. shift.

The electoral rules in the Central American country are simple, as in Brazil: in disputes for executive positions, winning in the first round requires obtaining more than 50% of the valid votes. However, recent measurements of voting intentions show that the three best placed candidates, Sandra Torres, Zury Ríos Sosa and Edmond Mulet, will hardly exceed 25% this weekend.

Even so, the differences between the figures shown by different polls generate uncertainty about who will advance to the second round, scheduled for August 20th.

Whoever wins this election will assume the Presidency of Guatemala on January 14, 2024, replacing the current mandate, the conservative Alejandro Giammattei.

Sandra Torres

Often, the title of former first lady serves to label a woman with the idea that, in the past, she was just an appendage to her ex-president husband. But, in this case, it is worth highlighting a particularity: Sandra Torres divorced Álvaro Colom, who governed Guatemala between 2008 and 2012, before his term ended.

A 67-year-old textile businesswoman, Torres split from Colom in 2011. Her background as a developer of social programs during her ex-husband’s tenure was what made her the main leader within the center-left National Unity of Hope party. (UNE), the same as the then president, who was with a government that showed high levels of disapproval.

As first lady, Torres created and managed projects such as Bolsa Solidária (income transfer), Bolsa de Alimentos (additional to the basic basket), Open Schools (education for low-income population) and Comunidade Produz (support for small rural producers), in addition to being one of the creators of the National Music Program for Children and Youth (support for minors to study music).

Four years later, in 2015, the businesswoman ran for the first time in the presidential elections, leading the UNE candidacy. In the first round, she got 19.8%, with a disadvantage of just four percentage points against the most voted, the liberal Jimmy Morales, who got 23.9%, which allowed him to dispute the second round.

However, the result of the second vote was categorical: 65.4% against 34.6% in favor of the liberal candidate, who was elected president.

In 2019, Torres ran again, obtaining better figures, but the same final result: the businesswoman even won the first round with 25.5% in her favor, against 13.9% for Giammattei. However, the union of right-wing candidates in the second round allowed for a turnaround, with the conservative reaching 57.9%, while she got 42.1%.

Therefore, this is the third attempt by Torres to reach the Presidency of Guatemala, again by UNE and with chances of overcoming the first round, according to polls.

Among the three favorites, she is the only one who does not appear in third place in any poll, always ranking first or second. Moreover, it is the only one that leads a measurement with an advantage above the margin of error.

It was precisely the most recent survey, published on Thursday (22/06) by the newspaper Free Press and carried out by the ProDatos institute, which shows Torres leading with 21.3% of the voting intentions. In second place is center-right candidate Edmond Mulet, with 13.4%, technically tied with Zury Ríos Sosa, representative of the extreme right, with 9.1%. The ruling Manuel Conde appears further behind, with 5.8%.

Zury Rios Sosa

The extreme right representative in this first round is Zury Ríos Sosa, daughter of the late General Efraín Ríos Montt, who commanded the military dictatorship in Guatemala between 1982 and 1983.

Leader of the last dictatorial period experienced in Guatemala, Zury’s father was marked by the so-called “Mayan genocide”, in which the country’s police and military forces killed more than 25,000 people of indigenous peoples, according to a report by the Commission for Historical Clarification, carried out in the 1990s and who investigated the events of that period.

The crimes against humanity committed during that government led former dictator Ríos Montt to be convicted in 2013 of crimes against humanity, receiving a sentence of 80 years in prison. However, his defense managed to annul the decision through an injunction, which could have been overturned, but the case ended up archived in 2018, with the death of the military man.


Sandra Torres, Edmond Mulet and Zury Ríos Sosa appear as favorites in the Guatemalan presidential elections

From then on, Zury started to defend the “legacy” of the dictatorship, with a speech that evokes a supposed “maintenance of order, security and normality” in that period. This rhetoric convinced part of society, making her partially recover her father’s image and allowing her to be positioned as a presidential figure of the far-right Valor party.

Two surveys place the extremist in first place in the dispute. The Mexican consultant GI360, in a survey published on June 14, indicates that Zury has 25.5%, against 21.5% for Torres, 16.8% for Mulet and 5.6% for Conde.

The company Espacio Muestral, disclosed this Tuesday (20/06), says that Zury leads with 19.5%, while Torres has 17.8%, Mulet has 15.6% and Conde 4.9%.

Edmond Mullet

When everything indicated favoritism for two women in the presidential race, the center-right male candidacy of a former employee of the United Nations (UN) appeared.

Lawyer, politician and diplomat Edmond Mulet worked for 11 years at the multilateral organization’s New York headquarters, during which time he held important positions: he was head of the UN Mission for the Stabilization of Haiti (MINUSTAH) and on two occasions: between June 2006 and August 2007, and January 2010 and May 2011. He was also Ban Ki-moon’s chief of staff between 2015 and 2016.

Before that, Mulet was deputy of the Guatemalan Congress (1986 and 1993), becoming president of the house (1991 and 1992). He also served as a diplomat at the two most important embassies in the country: in the United States (1993 and 1996) and in the European Union (2000 and 2006).

Mulet’s resume projects him as a highly respectable figure in Guatemala, and is his main discursive asset in a country where the last three presidents have suffered from accusations of corruption – the aforementioned Giammattei and Morales, as well as the also conservative Otto Pérez Molina.

In 2020, Mulet founded his own party, the Cabal, which allied with the Humanist Party of Guatemala to strengthen the politician’s image as leader of a platform that seeks to pacify the country. However, economically, his program defends liberal ideas and fiscal austerity, with limited space for social programs.

Furthermore, the very image of an internationally successful man has its Achilles heel in his links with the human rights violations committed by MINUSTAH in Haiti, although this theme has not been explored in the presidential campaign so far.

The consultancy Prosperidad Ciudadana, owned by influencer Carlos Pineda, published this Wednesday (21/06) the only poll that puts Mulet in first place, with 17.9% of the voting intentions, although technically tied with Torres, who has 16, 6%, and also with Zury, who has 16.1%. The ruling Conde appears with 4.5%.

Pineda and Count

Carlos Pineda, who published the poll favorable to Mulet, is not only Guatemala’s most famous influencer and tiktoker, he was also a presidential candidate until the month of May. His party has the same name as his consultant: Prosperidade Cidadã, and defends an ultraliberal discourse, like that of the New Party in Brazil.

A few weeks ago, Pineda was third in the race, even appearing in second place in some polls, with figures close to 20% of the voting intentions.

However, at the end of May, Guatemala’s Constitutional Court annulled the ultraliberal’s ticket, alleging irregularities in the assembly that made his candidacy official.

It is also worth remembering that Pineda’s candidacy was not the first to be annulled by the Guatemalan court. In January, the Constitutional Court also barred the registration of the left-wing Movement for the Liberation of the Peoples party, which had launched the campaign of indigenous leader Thelma Cabrera.

From then on, polls began to expect a migration of votes from the former candidate to other presidential candidates. According to the local press, Torres and Mulet were the most benefited by this change in scenario, which generated concern in certain sectors of the right, who expected that part of this electorate would support another representative: Manuel Conde, from the government party Vamos.

However, the low popularity of President Giammattei did not allow this plan to materialize.

Still, local analysts give Conde some importance, saying his unsuccessful candidacy could be abandoned at the last minute by voters who prefer to defend Zury or Mulet on Sunday, in an attempt to weaken the progressive Torres or even remove her from the second round.


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