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LATIN AMERICA / THE CARIBBEAN
Elections with surprising results
Latinamerica Press
10/28/2015
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Argentina, Colombia, Guatemala and Haiti had elections on October 25 whose results could change the political panorama of the region.

The polls prior to the elections of October 25 in Argentina predicted a sure victory for Daniel Scioli, of the governing Front for Victory, who was the favorite to win the presidency with 41 percent of the vote, while the opposition candidate, Mauricio Macri, of Let’s Change alliance, was predicted to win 30 percent. However, Scioli’s advantage was not realized at the polls.

Scioli and Macri will face off in a second round on Nov. 22 given that neither of them won more than 45 percent of the valid votes nor obtained 40 percent with a difference of 10 percentage points over their opponent. Preliminary election results give Scioli 36.8 percent of the votes, followed by Macri with 34.3 percent.

Everything indicates that Sergio Massa, of United for a New Alternative alliance, who remained in third place with 21.3 percent of the vote, will determine the results of the second round. The other three candidates — Nicolás del Caño, of Leftist and Workers Front, Margarita Stolbizer, of Progressives, and Adolfo Rodríguez Saa, of Federal Commitment — received 7.5 percent of the remaining votes.

In Colombia, governors of 32 departments and mayors of 1,099 municipalities were elected. More than 32.8 million voters were registered to vote, but only 50 percent of those turned out at the polls since voting is not mandatory in this country.

Bogotá, whose mayorship is the most disputed vacancy after the presidency, elected the center-right candidate Enrique Peñalosa, of Let’s Recover Bogotá party, displacing the left which has governed the city since 2004. Peñalosa, who was mayor of the capital between 1998 and 2000, won 33 percent of the votes, shoving aside Rafael Pardo, of the governing Party of the U, which won 28.5 percent, and Clara López, of the Alternative Democratic Pole, with 18 percent.

In Medellín was elected Federico Gutiérrez, from the movement We Believe, who represents the continuity of the progressive governments that administered the city since 2004. The victory of Gutiérrez was a hard hit to the right-wing Democratic Center, led by former president Alvaro Uribe (2002-2010) , whose candidate Juan Vélez Uribe was the favorite to win the race.

The parties of the governing coalition, National Unity — Party of the U, Liberal, Radical Change and Citizen Option — won individually or in alliance control of 27 of the 32 departments. Also, they won the majority of the mayors’ races of the country.

“I celebrate the results for the parties that make up the governing coalition,” said President Santos upon learning the election results.

The comedian and the 54 candidates
With 67 percent of the votes, comedian Jimmy Morales triumphed in the run-off elections in Guatemala, defeating Sandra Torres, of the National Unity of Hope party, who won 33 percent. Morales, of the National Convergence Front, a conservative humorist who is deeply religious and without political experience, won surprisingly in the first round of elections on Sept. 6 in the midst of political scandals that forced former president Otto Pérez Molina to resign.

The election of Morales, who will assume the presidency on Jan. 14, 2016 for a four-year term, is considered to be a protest vote against the generalized corruption the country has endured. In press statements, Morales assured that “I will dedicate all my heart and my strengths to not disappoint the voters who made me president.” Nevertheless, it is of concern that his campaign speeches revealed an extreme right inclination, such as denying that genocide occurred against the indigenous population during the armed conflict and defending the death penalty. Also, some critics have warned that Morales lacks coherent political proposals.

Elections in Haiti were held in an unusual climate of tranquility and civility. The Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) commended citizens for their participation in legislative and presidential elections.

Prime Minister Evans Paul considered the electoral process as “successful” and “a triumph for the country.”

More than 5.5 million voters were called to vote in the first round among 54 candidates seeking to replace President Michel Martelly, and as for the second round of legislative elections to elect 18 senators, 118 deputies and 142 mayors.

According to the polls, only five candidates have a possibility to participate in a second round: Jude Celestin, of the Alternative League for Haitian Progress and Emancipation, Jovenel Moïse, of the governing Haitian Bald Heads Party (PHTK), Jean-Charles Moïse, of Children of Dessalines platform, Maryse Marcisse, of Fanmi Lavalas — whose leader is former president Jean-Bertrand Aristide (1991, 1994-95, 2000-2004) —, and Jean-Henry Ceant, of the Love Haiti group.

According to polls released a week before the elections, Celestin had 33 percent of the intended votes, followed by Jovenel Moïse, with 18 percent and Jean-Charles Moïse with 12 percent.

The CEP reported that official results would be available within 10 days, but a second round is expected to take place on Dec. 27. Whoever wins will assume the presidency on Feb. 7 for a five-year term. —Latinamerica Press.

Note of the editor:
In order to facilitate the reading, we have translated the names of the political organizations. The official names are:

Argentina
Frente para la Victoria
Cambiemos
Unidos por una Nueva Alternativa
Frente de Izquierda y de los Trabajadores
Progresistas
Compromiso Federal

Colombia
Recuperemos Bogotá
Partido de la U
Polo Democrático Alternativo
Creemos
Centro Democrático
Unidad Nacional
Partido Liberal
Cambio Radical
Opción Ciudadana

Guatemala
Unidad Nacional de la Esperanza
Frente de Convergencia Nacional

Haití
Ligue Alternative pour le Progrès et l’Émancipation Haïtienne (LAPEH)
Parti Haïtienne Tèt Kale
Pitit Dessalines
Renment Ayiti


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