Argentina, Bolivia, El Salvador, Guatemala, Panama and Uruguay are holding presidential elections this year, which complete part of the region’s electoral calendar, which started in 2018 with major political changes in Mexico and Brazil.
At first glance, the most disputed presidential elections will be held in Argentina, where President Mauricio Macri, who has already shown signs of seeking re-election, could face ex-president Cristina Fernández; and in Bolivia, with Evo Morales who opts for a fourth term in charge of the Andean country.
The electoral calendar begins on February 3 in El Salvador and concludes with a superdomingo, on October 27, in which the presidential elections of Argentina, Uruguay and, possibly, Bolivia are played.
This small Central American country celebrates its sixth presidential election since the signing of the Peace Accords, which put an end to twelve years of civil war (1980-1992), and in which seven political parties will participate.
The main candidates to replace Salvador Sánchez Cerén are Hugo Martínez, of the ruling Frente Farabundo Martí para la Liberación Nacional (FMLN); Carlos Calleja, with Alianza Republicana Nacionalista (Arena); Nayib Bukele, former mayor of San Salvador, for the Great Alliance for National Unity (Gana), and Joshua Alvarado with VAMOS.
According to the polls, the two historical parties, Arena and FMLN, will be out of the game and the chosen one will be decided in a second round on March 10.
On May 5 more than 2.7 million Panamanians are authorized to choose the new president and vice president, deputies of the National Assembly and Central American Parliament (Parlacen), mayors and representatives of the corregimiento.
For the presidential race, different coalitions have been formalized. From the officialism that gathers the witness of the current president Juan Carlos Varela, the up to now mayor of the capital, José Blandón, is presented by “Panama Podemos”.
In the center right, former Foreign Minister Rómulo Roux is the candidate of Cambio Democrático, a party founded by former President Ricardo Martinelli (2009-2014), now in provisional detention. From the left of the Frente Amplio por la Democracia (FAD), Bet on Saúl Méndez, and also from the opposition with the coalition “Uniendo Fuerzas” appears the former minister Laurentino “Nito” Cortizo.
For analysts, the elections are going to be the most complicated, competitive and explosive since Panama returned to democracy in 1989.
On January 19, the Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE) will announce the day of June in which the general elections will be held that will decide the replacement of the current president, Jimmy Morales.
By law, political parties can not campaign in advance although presidential binomials are already being prepared, such as the cases of former first lady Sandra Torres, the opposition National Unity of Hope (UNE), or the lawyer and daughter of the deceased dictator José Efraín Montt, Zury Ríos, by Valor.
As in Panama, corruption seems to be the focus of a campaign where, according to experts, former Attorney General Thelma Aldana – who uncovered the case “La Línea” and took former President Otto Pérez Molina to prison – can run for president .
“Cristina returns?”, This question can be read as a headline in the Buenos Aires press these Christmas days. Undoubtedly, the return of the former president of the country is another ingredient for the uncertainty and confusion that surrounds the future tenant of the Casa Rosada.
On the official side, the current president Mauricio Macri has already said “be ready” to present despite the tensions in Cambiemos, the political force that supports him.
Peronism, the main core of opposition, is still divided between the Kirchnerists and those who resist a return of Fernandez to the front line, as is the case of the governor of Salta, Juan Manuel Urtubey, who has already announced his candidacy for the primary of August.
The judicial situation of the former president, with several judicial processes for corruption, and the weakened economic situation of the country are the two factors that may be key in the general elections of October 27.
Also on that date, Uruguayans must decide by mandatory vote who will be the president of the country. The Frente Amplio (FA) will try to validate a fourth term in power after the presidencies of José Mujica and Tabaré Vásquez.
At the moment, the FA nominated four candidates for internal elections on June 30. For its part, the main opposition, the National Party, and the Colorado Party will try to break the hegemony of the left by seeking support among a population concerned about security and the economic situation.
Without defining the final date and waiting for the results of the internal primaries of the parties on January 27, President Evo Morales capitalizes all electoral attention. The candidate of Movimiento al Socialismo (MAS) opts for his fourth consecutive term despite losing a referendum in 2016 that rejected this possibility.
With the endorsement of the Electoral Court, Morales will face seven candidates, including former president Carlos Mesa, who, to date, leads the polls.