| 14 April 2024, Sunday |

Guatemala election: Court orders probe after surprise result

Ahead of the second round of the presidential election in August, Guatemala is considering a vote recount. Former first lady Sandra Torres is expected to compete against center-left candidate Bernardo Arevalo.

In the initial round of voting last weekend, Guatemala witnessed a highly divided political environment. Centrist candidate Torres secured the first position with only 15.8% of the total votes cast.
Even against this background of political division, however, the performance of her rival Arevalo from the center-left Semilla party was higher than expected — Arevalo received 11.8% of the vote after garnering substantial support in larger cities. This was enough for him to come in second and secure a place in the runoff vote.

The conservative Vamos party’s candidate, Mario Conde, took third place with just over 10% of ballots cast in his favor.

Nonetheless, Vamos maintained its lead in Congress, with 39 lawmakers. Torres’ party UNE secured 28 seats and Semilla is set to have 23 lawmakers in the 160-member assembly.

On Saturday, Guatemala’s constitutional court ordered the results from the first round of presidential elections to be reviewed.

The judges reached the decision after hearing a joint appeal by nine political parties, including frontrunner Torres’ UNE party and current President Alejandro Giammattei’s Vamos party. The court said that Guatemalan authorities would check votes from the first round to see if they meet legal requirements, especially in the case of suspected irregularities.
Days after the vote, Torres said she was concerned that voters had been manipulated by a faulty digital voting system into selecting Arevalo’s Semilla.
Meanwhile, Arevalo told citizens to remain vigilant in the face of attempts to manipulate the results.

“We can’t let the same old parties, frustrated and disappointed by their poor results in the first round, tarnish and call into question the free decision of thousands of Guatemalans,” he said in a video posted on social media after the constitutional court announced its decision.

Observers from the Organization of American States said that the election appeared to have been carried out fairly.

  • DW