WorldElections in Latin America in November put the political map of the...

Elections in Latin America in November put the political map of the region at stake

A man votes in Santiago, Chile, on March 16, 2021, to choose mayors, councilors and a Constituent Assembly to rewrite the Constitution.MARTIN BERNETTI (AFP)

Latin America will have an electoral agenda loaded in November. The votes will change the political map of Argentina, Chile and Honduras and increase tension in Nicaragua, where President Daniel Ortega will win his re-election in the general election after arresting one by one all opposition candidates.

Nicaragua goes to the polls this Sunday, with Ortega as the only candidate, as the opposition considers that the other competitors are “cronies” of the regime. The president seeks his third consecutive re-election. Ortega launched a heavy crackdown in June, when he began arresting all opposition candidates who, according to polls, were most likely to win, including Cristiana Chamorro, daughter of former president Violeta Barrios de Chamorro. She aspired to repeat the feat of her mother, who in 1990 defeated the former Sandinista guerrilla.

A survey by the Cid Gallup institute released on Sunday by the magazine Confidential shows that 76% of Nicaraguans believe that Ortega’s re-election will not be legitimate. The poll reveals that, in a competitive contest, 65% of voters would choose any of the “opposition candidates,” while 17% would vote for Ortega and his wife and vice president, Rosario Murillo. The elections are classified by the opposition as a “farce” and both the United States, the OAS and the European Union have warned of the lack of guarantees in the electoral process.

The following Sunday, the 14th, the government of Peronist Alberto Fernández faces crucial legislative elections in Argentina. The primaries held in September, a mandatory first round of elections for voters and parties, were a catastrophe for the ruling party, with defeats in 18 of the country’s 24 districts. If the result is repeated now in the final election, Peronism will lose the majority in the Senate (and its own quorum) and will even cease to be the largest caucus in the Chamber of Deputies. The opposition would remain in the Chamber of Deputies under legal conditions to demand the presidency of the House.

The Government has been trying by all means to reverse the trend pointed out in the polls through millionaire social assistance plans for the poorest, credits for the middle class and a campaign based on the candidates’ hand-to-hand combat with voters. The economic crisis, the malaise resulting from the pandemic and the internal struggles in the coalition that led Fernández to Casa Rosada make the success of this strategy difficult.

On the third Sunday of November, the 21st, it will be Chile’s turn, where Sebastián Piñera’s successor will be elected. It will be the most polarized elections since the return to democracy in 1990. Social unrest, two years after the October revolts, has cooled little, and a Constituent Assembly dominated by independents has been drafting a Constitution for four months to replace the one inherited from the dictatorship . The economic environment has worsened, as has the social mood. The malaise gave force to the candidacy of José Antonio Kast, candidate of the extreme right who defends the legacy of the dictator Augusto Pinochet. Kast leads the polls with 22% of the vote, followed by the candidate of the left-wing Frente Amplio coalition, Gabriel Boric. Formed in the student riots of 2011, Boric has the support of 17.4% of Chileans. Anyway, the scenario is one of a result that will force a second round of tiebreakers, scheduled for December 19th.

The election month will end by Hondurans on Sunday, November 28th. It will be a lackluster election because of allegations of fraud and allegations of alleged links between President Juan Orlando Hernández and drug trafficking, investigated by US authorities. Polls indicate that the election will be disputed by two groups, the ruling candidate of the National Party, Nasry Asfura, and the leader of Liberdade e Refundação, Xiomara Castro. More than five million Hondurans are eligible to go to the polls to elect a president, 128 deputies to Congress and 20 deputies to the Central American Parliament.

A survey by the Center for Democracy Studies (Cespad), published last week, points out Castro, the wife of former president Manuel Zelaya, ahead of electoral preferences. Zelaya was overthrown by the coup d’état that in 2009 removed him from power in his pajamas and at gunpoint, which polarized Honduran society. The survey reveals that the Liberty and Refoundation candidate has 38% of the voting preferences, compared to 21% of her closest rival, the conservative Asfura, with 21% of the voting intentions. In other words, if the election were held now, Castro would win the dispute with a 17 percentage point advantage.