Guatemalans head to the polls in runoff presidential election

Following June’s first round of elections, a runoff to elect Guatemala’s next president will be held today. Though former First Lady

guatemala presidential election

Photo: Reuters/Luis Echeverria

Following June’s first round of elections, a runoff to elect Guatemala’s next president will be held today.

Though former First Lady Sandra Torres gained 26% of the vote, making her the frontrunner in the first round, she is now lagging six points behind her conservative competitor Alejandro Giammattei. Promising to reinstall many of the social welfare policies she led as First Lady including free education and health care, Torres is a favourite among poor rural areas. One million Guatemalans under the age of five suffer malnutrition.

Giammattei, on the other hand, is promising greater investment into prisons and the reinstatement of the death penalty. Guatemala’s homicide rate stood at 22.4 per 100,000 in 2018.

Despite the promises, 92% of Guatemalans lack faith in Congress. Ms Torres’s party is facing accusations of receiving election funding illegally and Mr Giammattei is linked to human rights violations and organised crime. As such, labour is Guatemala’s second largest export and accounts for 12% of its GDP.

Regardless of who wins, do not expect any significant change. Guatemala’s 8% emigration rate is unlikely to reduce.

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