Field of presidential candidates take shape in Guatemala

Louisa Reynolds also speculates about the electoral fallout from the Patriotic Party’s implosion In Guatemala, anti-establishment presidential candidate benefits from corruption scandals (here was my first post on the matter). Apparently a poll came out just before I wrote me post. The poll was conducted at the end of May.

In the wake of two major corruption scandals that have led to seven consecutive weeks of anti-corruption demonstrations, a new poll in the run-up to general elections in September shows right-wing populist Manuel Baldizón still leading. But his popularity has stagnated due to a widespread perception that his administration is likely to be as corrupt as that of current President Otto Pérez Molina’s.

Conducted by Costa Rican polling firm Borge y Asociados and published by Contrapoder magazine and Canal Antigua TV channel on June 5, the poll shows 34.5 percent of those surveyed would vote for Baldizón, while 12.9 percent would vote for center-left National Unity of Hope party candidate and former First Lady Sandra Torres, and a surprising 10.4 percent would vote for comedian Jimmy Morales, of the minuscule and under-funded FCN party.

The interesting contribution is her discussion of comedian Jimmy Morales.It’s early but maybe Mr. Morales can be the anti-establishment candidate that Ms. Torres and Mr. Baldizon cannot. His connections to various military figures will probably be a disadvantage following Perez Molina’s tumultuous administration as will his denial that genocide was committed against the Ixil.

Morales defined himself as a “nationalist” and blamed corruption on parents’ failure to inculcate values in their children. He also denied that genocide was committed against the Ixil Mayan group during the armed conflict, and said he supported the death penalty and would not legalize abortion.

Although his discourse veered towards the far right, Morales underscored his working-class origins and said his mother, a widow, worked as an assistant in a shoe store, and that as a boy, he sold bananas and secondhand clothes in a local market to help support the family.

The candidate that is emerging as the dark horse in the race was also eager to downplay the military background of the FCN’s founding members, which include retired army Gen. José Luis Quilo Ayuso, former president of the Guatemalan Association of Military Veterans.

It’s possible that he can win but his resume doesn’t scream anti-establishment…at least in a good way.

A second encuesta also finds Baldizon, Torres, and Morales at the top, although there is a sharp difference between Baldizon and his competitors.

Here, Baldizon is close to a first round victory.