The results of the Guatemala Presidential elections, which took place on Sunday, 11th September, left two candidates to run-off on the 6th November. According to PlazaPública, Otto Pérez Molina gained 36.08% and Manuel Baldizón was second with 23.3%. Presidential elections in Guatemala, as well as Department and Mayoral elections, are seldom about the political parties involved. The parties tend to be used as personal vehicles for contenders in order to achieve their ambitions and, as such, tend not to have a long life span. As such, they have little or no relevance though this may change. It will be interesting to see if Sandra Torres decides to run, or is allowed to stand, in the next elections in 2016 on the UNE ticket. UNE, as well as Pérez Molina’s PP, did well in the Mayoral elections, much down to Torres for UNE.
So come the 6th November, Guatemalans should they vote, will have a choice between a former military and a business man – each with their own murky backgrounds and each who wield considerable power and influence among those who rule Guatemala. I mentioned, ‘should they vote’ on purpose. Guatemalans tend to turn out more for the 1st round of these elections rather than the run-offs. Elections tend to be local affairs and the capital is so far away and can have very little affect on peoples’ day to day lives. For the 1st round, the local Department and Mayoral candidates are very generous in ensuring that transport is laid on for their supporters come election day. For the 2nd round, people have to make their own way and considering the costs involved, many decide to stay at home. The more local the election, the more interest is taken.