Most Guatemalans unhappy with options in this weekend's presidential election
Violence is down compared to the last presidential election, but Guatemalans deserve more than what they have been offered in this campaign of candidates with questionable backgrounds.
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It should not come as a surprise that over 80 percent of all Guatemalans believe that they deserve better than the current crop of presidential candidates.Skip to next paragraph
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In terms of the country’s political parties, there's not a lot of good to report. Political parties have not devised sophisticated political platforms that are likely to address the country's problems. That, however, is somewhat forgivable as the platform is more of a list of priorities and wish lists rather than a blueprint for governing.
On the other hand, the parties didn't bother to adhere to the official start date of this year's campaign. The major political parties could care less about campaign finance laws. They don't report who's providing their campaigns with financial contributions and several have spent well over what is allowed by law. There remain legitimate concerns as to the extent to which this year’s campaigns have been infiltrated by money from by drug traffickers and organized crime.
Some parties don't even know their candidates. To be fair, approximately 32,000 Guatemalans are running for office next Sunday! I'm not sure if that includes 21 mayoral candidates of the leftist Frente Amplio that were rejected because of technicalities.
One of the only good things to characterize this year's campaign is that it is less violent compared to the 2007 campaign, in spite of what many of us feared would happen. Even though one mayoral candidate from San José Pinula succeeded in killing two competitors, the overall campaign has seen fewer campaign-related deaths (36) compared to the previous election (68). And, fortunately, calm prevails in those municipalities that officials had been most worried about leading up to Sunday’s vote.
That's something, but I think that Guatemalans were hoping for more.
– Mike Allison is an associate professor in the political science department and a member of the Latin American and women's studies department at the University of Scranton in Pennsylvania. You can follow his Central American Politics blog here.
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