13 Aug 2019
Guatemala’s next leader will be Alejandro Giammattei, a right-wing former national prison director.
With 58% of votes, Giammettei beat former first lady Sandra Torres by 16 points in the second round of Guatemala’s election on Aug. 11. It was his fourth presidential bid.
As a candidate, Giammattei spoke of creating jobs and fighting crime in the poor, violence-gripped Central American country. But his campaign offered few policy proposals beyond taking a hard line against gangs like MS-13 that operate with impunity in Guatemala, building new prisons and reimposing the death penalty.
The 63-year-old Giammattei’s base includes former military members, the far right, evangelicals and business leaders – essentially the same electorate that put outgoing President Jimmy Morales in power. But polling suggests Giammattei won primarily due to the extreme unpopularity of his opponent, who has a history of corruption allegations.
Guatemalans were deeply unenthusiastic about both candidates. Just 42% of registered voters voted, the lowest percentage since the country’s civil war ended in 1996. Nearly 6% of them cast blank or spoiled ballots, apparently in protest.
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