October 26, 2015
Jimmy Morales, candidate of the National Convergence Front Party (FCN), was named winner in Guatemala’s presidential election Sunday with 69 percent of the vote, crushing his opponent Sandra Torres of the National Unity of Hope Party.
After casting his vote, he praised the participation of Guatemalan voters. “Guatemala gave an election to the world,” he told the press.
However, election observers have highlighted the remarkably low voter turnout throughout the day. Four hours before the polls closed, a participation rate of about 32 percent was registered in the 52 municipalities surveyed by the Central American Studies for Democracy (Demos).
According to Demos, the “obvious disgust” of Guatemalan citizens explained this pattern, evidenced by the widespread hashtag on social media “Quede Quien Quede,” or “whoever is in place,” suggesting voters have little hope for change regardless of who wins.
“It does not matter who you’d have voted for, your country is doomed anyway,
Many active citizens will keep their eyes open, warned the citizen movement Justicia Ya, which mobilized against corruption and for former President Otto Perez Molina’s dismissal during the past several months. Perez Molina resigned in September after his presidential immunity was stripped by Congress and was arrested the next day for his alleged role in the La Linea corruption scandal. He is now jail awaits trial on corruption charges.
Political analyst Sandino Asturias explained to teleSUR that the higher turnout recorded during the first round in September was actually motivated by negative incentives: voters mobilized to reject specific candidates. This time, as civil society’s demands for electoral reforms have not been granted, voter participation diminished, in addition with the lack of candidates’ proposals, said Asturias.
More importantly, the reconfiguration of political forces before the run-off vote was mainly perceived as a way of maintaining continuity with the previous administration, which was taken down after months of massive mobilizations by civil society in response to the massive corruption scandal. The party in power before the election has already made a move to be included in a governing coalition led by President-elect Morales and his party.
Consequently, Morales won with the support of the business and military sectors, and the media resources of Perez Molina’s Patriotic Party, as Asturias suggested.
“Be aware that you [Morales] will not be elected because you are the best option, we will all be watching your actions and decisions”
Guatemalans do not believe that the president elected today will solve the country’s institutional political problems, concluded Asturias, but rather perceive a continuity with the previous government and his business-military project, excluding the interests of civil society.